What I will be writing about is nothing new to we who live abroad from our own countries. To come here, we must say goodbye to family - friends - churches - others. We do the best we can to stay in communication with those listed above but after time, those closest are the ones who we make time for. Then there comes a day when you will leave here. You leave behind many people you have built great relationships with and who you have come to know them as your family. For those to who will read this letter, it is about the EBCI family. It is about these peculiar people (1 Peter 2:9) who God has brought together and has woven the different lives into the fabric of His tapestry which is designed to show all we come into contact with that we are the EBCI family of God. We are a local congregation, made up of imperfect people... meeting in an imperfect place... helping others to become less imperfect (Eph. 4)... serving a PERFECT CHRIST.
In the almost four years we have been here, we have seen some of God's finest move on to other countries. It hurts to lose those who have invested so much into God's work at EBCI, through many good and a few not so good days move on. It is a blessing to see the testimony of their love for EBCI in their commitment to the work of God here until God moved them out of reach to be apart of EBCI. It is sweet to see them serving the Lord where God has relocated them around the world. Taking the EBCI blessings of what God gave them, with them to share. I love the communications I have along the way with those who have moved on and how they still consider EBCI their family.
Over the next few months, we will be losing some of our church family as they relocate to other parts of the world. Already, the conversations we have are sweet and loving... painful and sad but the one thing that remains consistent in these conversations prior to leaving Dubai is that EBCI is and will continue to be a family to them. As we see God move them away from this household, we must commit to praying for them to find a Bible believing... soul winning... mission minded imperfect church. Pray that they serve the Lord with all their heart and love their new church as their family until God moves them, again, to where they cannot geographically be a vital part of the God-given makeup of that unique family of God.
After all that I said above, let us look at Hebrews and see what It is saying. These two verses are critical to being a part of God's family, in the context of the local church.
Here is a simple breakdown of the verses...
Let us consider - We are to give deep thought to the things Hebrews is about to speak too.
How we may spur one another - The idea of spur here is to encourage with intention. So we are to do this to one another (our church family).
on toward love and good deeds - The priority of this section is to help grow them in their love for Christ so that they fall deeper in love with Christ and their heart's desire is to be faithful in their service among the body God places them in.
not giving up meeting together - This is a continuation of the focus of our active spurring the Brothers and Sisters in our family to be in attendance and involved.
as some are in the habit of doing - The word habit here is important. It is speaking of those who God brought to the family but somewhere along the way, chose other things to be faithful to. The list is long as to why family members take up habits not to be engaged with their family.
but encouraging one another - This is re-emphasizing the need to be encouragers to your church family. This is not a verse for us to demand that others encourage us but a verse which is setting the pattern we are to take in leading the way of being an encourager.
all the more as you see the day approaching - Simply, God is saying that the time we have here is too precious and too short to waste on not being a fully committed part of the imperfect family God gives us.
The world in which we live is changing faster than it seems we can keep up with. Not only in the area of technology but in just about every area of our lives. Rules change... That is why we are currently meeting at DECC. Jobs and life change... That is why we will be saying goodbye to several families between now and July. Kids change... the babies I have dedicated since I have been here, have grown so much. Styles change... Some for the good and others not so much.
I could go on but let me list a few things that do not change. Jesus does not change... We can count on His never changing love, grace and mercy (and more) to carry us through each day. The mission of the church does not change...No matter where we are, our mission remains the same as it did when the church was given its mission in Acts.
I am so glad that in such a changing world that God gives us the two items listed above as consistent and dependable. Church family I ask that you pray that no matter what we do that we do it in obedience to the unchanging God, through the mission God has given us. Take time today to thank God for being unchangeable and for our faithfulness to the mission God has given us.