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This has obviously been a very difficult week for our church family not to mention, of course, Yonghong and June Cheng along with their two boys. As I am sure you've already thought about, the death of little Matthew has also ripped open the emotional wounds of the Wenninger and Byrd families. In God's providence, we seem to have been inundated with loss and sorrow these past four months. As our elders gathered late yesterday afternoon to address a number of issues, one of the things that was uppermost in their minds was this; "Is the Lord trying to tell us something? Is there a lesson or lessons here that we must not miss?" I think this is something that each of us needs to ask and trust Him to impress upon our hearts whatever He may desire to communicate to us. At that point, we must also be prepared to act if indeed some action on our part is called for as we individually and corporately wait upon our God in prayer. At the very least, we have been humbled and reminded of our utter dependence upon the Lord.
I want you to know that the Session believes it prudent that we move ahead with our annual congregational dinner tomorrow evening and I hope you can be with us. We need to be together and encourage one another in the Lord. These have been painful days but as Proverbs 17:22 puts it, "A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones." So, in the midst of difficult times - most recently from the Haitian crisis to Matthew's homegoing - we believe it is appropriate to enjoy table fellowship as we rejoice in our God and what He has done in our midst over the past decade. There will also be a special presentation to Lois Walker which you won't want to miss.
However, there is most certainly a time to earnestly seek the face of the Lord together. Therefore, we will commission our Mexico team Sunday evening as well as spend some moments openly sharing our hearts, hearing from God's Word and praying together as we beseech the Father in heaven to show us our sins that we may repent wherever needed so that we may be ever more useful to Him in His Kingdom work on earth. Our God is good and He is good all the time. He is at work in our body although it may be a painful work at the moment. Yet, all that we have and are experiencing is for His own glory and our good as He crafts us more and more into the image of His dear Son. Admittedly, these are not easy times but growth in grace and obedience seldom is easy. The cliché is true - "no pain, no gain."
Please continue to uphold in prayer the Cheng, Wenninger and Byrd families. There will be a memorial service for Matthew at Meeks Funeral Home downtown at 10:00 AM tomorrow, January 23. If you are available to attend and would like to do so you are most welcome to come. I am sure the Cheng family would be grateful for you standing with them in their hour of grief. Your cards of condolence are also appreciated.
I am personally thankful for your prayers and emails of encouragement. The Lord seemed to bless His Word as I preached at Taylor on Wednesday and also provided His grace in dealing with the press later that afternoon. I have sent an editorial comment to The Star Press this morning regarding their erroneous statement that our "Congregation (is) praying for deceased infants." I simply could not let that pass without some corrective effort. Pray that they will print it as written. I would also appreciate your prayers for some of the men of our church as we attend our presbytery men's retreat north of Cincinnati this evening and tomorrow. We will be back in time for the dinner tomorrow night, God willing. I am praying for you and all concerned in these times of trouble. Remember the words of our Lord, "...in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." May His grace and peace be yours in abundance.