JANUARY THEME: IN THE BEGINNING…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. —John 1:1-5

January 1 is the beginning of the new year, 2020, and the dawn of a new beginning for each of us. On New Year’s Day, we should remember what was in the beginning, because that does not change. What will be in the beginning for us?

As we start the new year, let us resolve that in the beginning we will follow Jesus and endeavor to do His will in all things; that in the beginning and throughout the year we will praise Him and worship Him. Let that be our new beginning in the dawn of the new year 2020 and every year from now on.

DECEMBER THEME: THE KING IS COMING!

The King is Coming!

Your king is coming to you. He does what is right, and he saves. He is gentle and riding on a donkey, on the colt of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the horses from Jerusalem. The bows used in war will be broken. The king will talk to the nations about peace. His kingdom will go from sea to sea, and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth.

–Zechariah 9:9-10

We now are in the Season of Advent. Advent of what?  Toys, a new Iphone, a new car, Christmas trees, wreaths, lights, decorations, parties, get-togethers, hunting. Do those things define Christmas? Sadly, for many of us, yes.

With so many things consuming our time (and attention), there is little time to consider what it all is leading to. When we get to Dec. 24, how do we define the day? The arrival of… Santa Claus? That is what we tell our children.

When the clock turns to Christmas Day, do we gather to worship God and celebrate the birth of His Son Jesus; or do we unwrap presents, drink coffee, egg nog and Mimosa’s, assemble toy fire trucks and bicycles, and encourage the children to go outside and play with their toys? Is there a ball game on TV that we can watch, or a blockbuster movie playing at the local theater? We enjoy being together with friends and family, but do we give thanks to God for that?

Consider, for a moment, that it is Advent. Advent of the birth of Jesus, who suffered and died on a cross for the redemption of our sins. The King is coming, without Christmas trees, without wreaths, without toys and without Iphones or even Santa Claus. To celebrate His arrival, all we need is to worship Him: To praise Him and thank Him for His gift of redemption.

The King is coming! Crown Him with many crowns! God bless us everyone.

GIVING TO THE LORD IS A BLESSING TO YOU

As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. In less than a month, we will be celebrating His birth.

“Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” —John 18:37

What does that have to do with giving?

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. —1 Corinthians 12:27

We are part of the Body of Christ, His Church. It is incumbent on us to support and sustain Christ’s Church; our church.

To assure that support and sustenance, from a Sunday School lesson years ago[1], we can learn much about supporting the church. One thing is this: “Despite the system of Cromwell’s England and traditions of many churches today, there is no direct New Testament teaching that requires tithing. Paul taught the Corinthians to give willingly, generously, and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:5-7) in proportion to what one has (1 Corinthians 16:2), but he did not specify a percentage.” The lesson points out that “biblical doctrine of tithing is therefore based on Old Testament passages, and many Christians do not see these as binding on the church.…the most famous passage about tithing is found in the Book of Malachi, in which we are told to prepare for the coming of the Lord; do not worry about “when,” for it is a certainty that it will happen. That certainty extends to the return of Christ.

Malachi asks “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, How are we robbing you? In tithes and offerings.” (Malachi 3:8) Malachi points out that what we have belongs to God, but that He allows us to keep 90 percent of it. “When we give an offering at church today, we may be tempted to view it like a parent giving a child an allowance, or like a taxpayer dutifully writing a check to the government. Malachi’s understanding flows in the opposite direction: all the sheep are God’s to begin with, yet he claims only one-tenth. For an ancient Israelite to tithe was God’s permission for them to keep the other nine-tenths. Therefore, to withhold the tithe was not a lack of generosity but outright thievery—a taking of that which belonged to another.”

At the time the lesson was published, an estimate was that the average churchgoer gave about 3 percent. “Another study claims that if this would rise to 10 percent, then American Christians ‘could evangelize the world, stop the daily deaths of 29,000 children younger than 5 worldwide¸ provide elementary education across the globe and tackle domestic poverty—and have $150 billion left over annually…More conservatively, however, think what would happen if that 3 percent level of giving increased only to 4 percent: funding for ministry would go up by a whopping one-third!”

What if we were to forego certain luxuries we may be accustomed to awarding ourselves and tithe to the Lord. Would we lose something?

Malachi answers, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

“God promises to bless those who give freely and in full measure,” the lesson concludes.

Our church budget is formulated by considering our obligations and our goals for ministry both within and without. Our obligations include salaries, utilities, insurance, building maintenance and the like, and are a significant part of the total budget, which annually is around $150,000. If all of us give at a tithing level rather than just the average 3 % level, our giving to outreach and internal ministry could increase by a vast amount!

If you already have pledged and do not want to increase your pledge this year, consider tithing, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

[1] God’s Prophets Demand Justice, Unit 3, Advocates of Justice  for All, Lesson 13

NOVEMBER THEME: FALL. ON YOUR KNEES!

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. —Phiip

It is fall, autumn; the air is crisp, the leaves are turning, the harvest is in, hurricane season is over, and shortly the national holiday of Thanksgiving will be here. But, for Christians, every day is thanksgiving! God has brought us to this season, that for many is the favorite season of the year. For all the blessings that the Lord has given us, this is a good time to fall on our knees with thanksgiving! Thank the Lord for Jesus and His gift of grace! Do so as we approach the advent season. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to fall on your knees and pray; now is the time, as is any time; and now is the season, as is any season. Fall! On your knees!

 

 

WE HAVE AN ADDITIONAL PHOTO SESSION DATE, NOVEMBER 18

Universal Church Directories has added a photo session date for Bethany. After completing the schedule for our first photo session date, November 5, UCD added a second date, Monday, November 18.

Bethany Communications (BethCom) will begin October 27 signing up people for the new date. If you are one of the Bethany people who has not signed up to get your directory photo taken, please stop in the narthex Sunday and schedule your photo appointment. You also may call the church office, 249-0266, and schedule your photo appointment.

Photos will be taken every 10 minutes beginning at 2 PM, Monday, November 18, up to 8:30 PM.  The directory photo is free, and you will receive a free 8″ x 10″ print along with your copy of the new directory. So sign up as soon as possible! If you cannot get your photo taken November 18, for $10.00, you may submit a directory photo to UCD.

For our directory to be complete and useful to all in the congregation, we want everyone’s photo in the directory!

 

OCTOBER THEME: SEASONS CHANGE; JESUS DOESN’T

While the seasons of earthWhile the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22 ESV) and the seasons of lifeTherefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)—change, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 ESV).

The seasons of earth change and constantly surprise us with hurricanes, heat waves and periods of extreme cold, along with the pleasant weather we expect in each season. The seasons of life are no different: Whether in our youth we find a new love or experience an illness , or in our mature years enjoy our retirement or lose a loved one, life is always changing. We will experience good and bad. But with the changes of the earth and the changes in our lives, there is stability in Christ, for He is unchanging. If you are looking for an anchor in your life, follow Jesus!

 

OBITUARY: GENE THOMAS STILLEY

We are sad to report the death of one our church family, Gene Thomas Stilley. We express our condolences to his family, we share their grief and we pray for the Lord to comfort them. His obituary, as printed in the New Bern Sun Journal, is printed below.

Gene Thomas Stilley

ARAPAHOE – Gene Thomas Stilley of Arapahoe, NC died suddenly September 28, 2019. A native of New Bern, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduation from New Bern High School in 1971. After his military service, he continued his work as a Helicopter Mechanic at Cherry Point Marine Corp Air Station until his retirement in 2008. His retirement was filled with his unique gift of taxidermy, residential construction, and special time with his family, children, and grandchildren. He attended Bethany Christian Church for many years. He was preceded in death by his son, Jeremy Gene Stilley. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Pat Polzin Stilley; daughter, Emily Harper and husband Eric Harper; daughter-in-law, Marie Stilley; grandchildren, Casey Harper, Miko Stilley, Diana Harper, Jilly Stilley, and Davis Harper, all of Arapahoe; parents, L. Graham and Lovie Thomas Stilley of New Bern; brothers, Richard Stilley and wife Cathy of Roswell, GA; Dennis Stilley and wife Kriston of Rockmart, GA; and Gary Stilley and wife Kim of New Bern; sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Sue and Mike Manning of Arapahoe. A celebration of his life will be Saturday, October 5, 2019 at Bethany Christian Church, Arapahoe, NC with the Rev. Franklin Osgood and the Rev. Merritt Watson officiating. The family will receive friends prior to the service starting at 2 p.m. with the service to follow at 4 p.m. Those desiring may make memorial contributions to Bethany Christian Church, 8126 NC Hwy. 306, Arapahoe, NC 28510.

CHURCH YARD SALE IS SATURDAY!

CWF Group 5 and BethCom are putting on a yard sale Saturday, 14 Sep, from 7 AM to noon. Furniture, household and miscellaneous items, as well as books and pocketbooks will be available.

Also, muffins, juice and coffee will be available for purchase! So come early, have your coffee and a muffin for breakfast, and find good deals!

Click here for the poster.

THEME FOR SEPTEMBER: HOME SWEET HOME!

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked.  For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. —2 Corinthians 5:1-5

We all have experienced moving into a home—unloading boxes, taking off our shoes so as not to scratch the floor. Most of us have places to live that we call “home.” Most of them are comfortable and familiar to us, and we feel “at home” in them.

But we all are travelers and what we think of as our homes really are just rest stops along the way. As believers in Jesus Christ, we travel through this life toward our real home, with Him. When we arrive, there will be no boxes to unload and unpack, no shoes to take off and probably no floors to scratch. But we will know, at last, that we are Home, Sweet Home!

 

DO NOT CLICK ON HIGHLIGHTED WORDS IN POSTS!

The WordPress user agreement allows WordPress to insert ads in blogs and websites. We cannot change that. We would have to use another platform that would not be free, and would, in fact, involve a substantial expense. Communications is considering another option, however.

But for the time being, do not click on a highlighted word, like the ones highlighted in this post in blue. If your cursor hovers over the word, an ad will pop up. Do not click on that ad! Some ads will insert malware into your computer, and it will be hard to clean it, or eliminate it, if you do not have good anti-virus/anti-malware protection on your computer.

The best protection against any malware attack on your computer is a good anti-virus/anti-malware protection program. There are many available, some for free, like Malwarebytes.

The editor recommends Trend Micro Maximum Security, which, if you buy online from Trend Micro (you can purchase in stores, but the price for doing so is about 20% higher),  costs $49.95 for one year . Renewals each year are discounted. Trend Micro operates in the cloud, and doesn’t slow your computer.

Here is the link to Trend Micro.

http://bestantivirusoftware.com/trendmicro-antivirus.html?gclid=CjwKCAjwqNnqBRATEiwAkHm2BFdjKlOJGWbt6jnNnk2RAqiMXDbtBnQzR3gTs_1igxdhrlejET2ZPxoCMSAQAvD_BwE

But there are other good programs as well; just do something to protect your computer, if you do not currently have protection. And don’t click on ads.