Recently, some brothers and sisters who had not come to church in a long time came back to attend service. I was both surprised and glad to see them again. When I told other members that they had returned, they also reacted with surprise and joy. However, our reactions made me realize one thing – in a sense, we were surprised because we were not expecting them to come back. In a sense, though we must have prayed for these lost sheep at one point in time, we were surprised because for a long time, we may have forgotten about them.
“So do you have any plans this weekend?” This is a common question we all hear as we get closer to the end of each week. When I was young, after hearing about all the fun and exciting things my friends had planned for the weekend, I would usually answer in a sheepish way, “Uh… no, not really,” and the conversation would move on without me. In reality, I always had something planned for the weekend – every week, my family and I go to church to keep the Sabbath day. But back then, I was afraid of telling my friends about it because I was afraid of being different, of standing out from the crowd. Nowadays though, if you ask me what I’m doing for the weekend, I’ll probably still say, “Nothing much.” But, I’ll also say, “I am going to church though!” What changed my mind?
I give great thanks to God that I was able to attend the Regional High School Theological Seminar (RHTS) this summer at Pacifica Church. Growing up in church sometimes causes me to think that every spiritual seminar I go to will turn out the same, but I’m glad to say that that was not the case this year. When I was registering for the event, I noticed that very few people signed to go this year compared to the attendance last year. My first reaction was “Aw, man! This is going to be no fun!” However, I realized throughout the course of this RHTS that it is not man that makes these events “fun” or edifying, but God.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)
God is the origin of all our spiritual blessings, and He is the one that has the power to guide and bless every one of our church events.
The theme this year was A Life of Victory. We studied a wide variety of topics under the guidance of God and the workers He sent to help us, including The Transformation of Peter, Joseph and Samson, Romans, Daniel, Ephesians, Acts and Evangelism, and Water Baptism and One True Church. From these, we learned about the foundations and pillars of our beliefs and how to defend them, the importance of Holy Spirit and God’s Word in transforming our mentality and our lives, and how to be victorious through humility and faith in God.
In addition to the lectures, we had many wonderful prayers, sharings, fellowships, and testimonies between the counselors and the students. I believe that many of us gained just as much, if not more, from the activities outside of lectures as we did from the formal classes. One gift that everyone received from these activities was the gift of experiencing God’s undying love for us. Whether through the Scriptures, through prayer, or through the words of our fellow brethren, I saw that God touched the hearts of every holy worker and attendee with His gift of love. One of the most memorable was Psalms 103, shared by one of the brothers who testified:
“…The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust…” (Ps 103:8-14)
Although at times it seems that we are few in number and lacking in strength, we don’t need to worry. From this RHTS, I learned that God is loving and faithful to the children that He chose from the beginning of time. As long as we are willing to put our trust in Him, our rock and salvation, and obey His word, God will abide with us and allow us to see Him work.