By Micah Schuler and Melinda Muller
Devos usually wake us up every morning with a fresh look at what God has for us in the Bible and set the tone for the day. We’ve been learning from various parts of the Bible with each of our teachers. I learned a lot from the book of John. Steven has been doing an excellent job explaining the historical and contextual background for the message that John has given. Ryan’s teaching from Colossians 3:1-4 was particularly edifying for me as well. He discussed the importance of filling our minds with truth and obsessing over things that are above. When we set our minds on these things, our emotions and the rest of our being will follow in response. This theme was also brought out later in the week by a different teacher: what is in our minds and hearts will come out in our behavior. In addition, it’s important to pass on the truth that we know to others. Tagging on from last week’s discussion on discipleship and leadership, this was good to have emphasized. Overall, I appreciate this time that the dedicated leaders take to teach us the gospel and guide us through our time in Virginia.
As we read this week from Isaiah 8 to Ezekiel 37, a common theme we kept noticing was God’s wrath and His judgment on sin and disobedience; yet He desires that people would follow after his ways and repent. Though His people are wicked, He still calls out to them to repent so that He can restore and forgive them. The context of the 3½ books ranges from the reign of the semi-good King Uzziah of Judah to the Great Exile of Judah into Babylonian captivity. Each author (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel) came from different backgrounds and families, but all had one thing in common: they were Chosen by God to receive His Words and Revelations, write them down, and proclaim/warn the people accordingly. In Isaiah, we saw that God is still on the Throne of Heaven and has a Plan for Redemption. (Isaiah 6 & 53) Isaiah tried to warn the people that if they did not repent, they would be taken into captivity. His cry for people to come back to God went unheard by most, and eventually Jeremiah and Ezekiel would proclaim the downfall of the city and their hopelessness in the state to which they had brought themselves. In Jeremiah and Lamentations, we saw that God will preserve His people through hardships, and He will eventually restore them to His original promises. Finally, in Ezekiel we saw that God will use pictures, and sometimes confusing visions, to tell what will happen both in the immediate future and in the long-term plan of redemption for His Elect. A few things to keep in mind when reading these books are: the warnings to Israel and the surrounding nations, the historical context of past prophecies and their fulfillment, and the foretelling of future events for the world.
What happens at the end of the world??? Is there some type of war that brings the world to its knees? Is there some geological or economical catastrophe that takes place? Well, there are answers. This week, Pastor Steve Holley gave answers and insight through his understanding and study of the end times as we see in Scripture. Here are some of the highlights: several views on the timeline of the end times according to Scripture, specific events during the end times, the roles and responsibilities of people at the end of the world.
- Order and operations: Steve Holley portrayed the various methods of interpreting passages concerning the end times. However, one stands out as the most reasonable approach. This method of hermeneutics is based on a literal interpretation of reading God’s Word concerning the end times. This view is called Dispensational Pre-Millennialism (try to say that 5 times fast!) and seem to many Christians as the best way to view the end times. We are glad to be reminded of the truth of scripture. The fact that God has laid out events beforehand that will come to pass strengthens our faith. Nothing will surprise Him; He has it all under His control.
- Events of significance: We were taught about the various events that are supposed to happen in the final days. Example: the Rapture. The teaching that Christ will one day call all of His Followers to be brought up to Him in Heaven. If people don’t believe that the Rapture will happen, then when it does, Christ will come like a thief in the night and take His followers to Himself suddenly. (1 Thessalonians 5:1–11) Another event would be the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. According to the Pre-Millennialist, this will be a 1,000 year reign of Christ on Earth with all those who have accepted and placed all they are in Him. During that time we, Christians, will be ruling with Christ over all the Earth, O what a joy it will be!
- Leaders and Citizens: An example of this would be Christians. As Christians we will be ruling with Christ during the Millennial Kingdom, but we will also be given rewards for our faithfulness to Him on Earth. Another example of an important person is Antichrist. (Revelations 13) He will be a man that will somehow bring “peace” to the world but will eventually lead the world into Satan Worship. This is one really BAD Dude.
One main thought we were left with was: what do we believe about the end? Are we excited or are we afraid? If we are Christians, I would submit that we should be excited for the end because we know that we will see our LORD and be in perfectly restored union with Him. But Unbelievers should have great fear, because they are assured eternal separation and Wrath when they die. This fact should drive us to a point where we cannot but speak of the Hope and Life we have in Christ. (Acts 4:13–21)
Washington DC and Sightseeing
Tuesday evening we all decided that we wanted to see Arlington National Cemetery. As we entered and began to view the graves and memorials, we all began to have heavy sense of sorrow and thankfulness, grief and joy, helplessness and hopefulness, all at the same time. As we watched the changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I thought about all those who are missing and lost… it made me think about the rest of humanity, many of them are lost and are in need of rescue. As we went through the cemetery we saw close to 10,000 graves and memorials. As we exited, all was silent in our group. No laughing. No talking. No nothing, except obvious and raw emotion. As we drove away, someone played the song “Arlington” by Trace Atkins. As we listened again no one said anything. It was as though no one wanted to be the one to break the silent contemplation of what we had all experienced. As I look back now, my thoughts at the Tomb hit me again, and will forever remember the sacrifice of the men and women. In order to help me remember I have no choice but to share my Hope of life that I have in Christ.
Saturday morning, Sarah, Abby, Eli, Melinda, Curtis Homan, and I went to see Mount Vernon, the home of US President and General George Washington. While we were there we got to see the places that Disney Shot at for the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets. We saw the original tunnels and landscapes of the movie. The main house and villa has been restored to exactly the same conditions as the last day of Washington’s life. After going to Mount Vernon we all went to see the National Archives. While we got to see the collection of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, etc… we were not allowed to take any pictures, because of the potential damage to the documents. I got the sense of national pride in seeing the documents that have helped to govern this nation for almost 250 years. Lastly, we went to see the World War II Memorial.Again, when we walked up to see the memorial, I felt a sense of national pride, but this time I also felt a semi-similar feeling as when we were at Arlington Cemetery: thankfulness yet sorrow, joy yet greif. If you have ever seen the WWII Memorial you probably know that same feeling. When you see all 50 states and US Territory columns there is a sense of inspiration and gratitude to each one for sending their men to fight for us.
Reformation Day Event
On Thursday, after we did evangelism at NOVA (Northern Virginia Community College) we arrived at the church building for the Foundry Reformation Day Party! for those who don’t know, Reformation Day started on October 31, 1517, by Martin Luther when he nailed his 95 Theses on the doorpost of Door of the Schlosskirche (castle church) in Wittenberg, Germany. At the party, there was a chili cook off, but to Alex Hairgrove’s dismay he only took 2nd place to Steven Procopio’s 1st place. After everyone ate and voted, there was about a 20 minute review of the Reformation. Immediately following that, we had a trivia game encompassing various aspects of the Reformation.
This week we went to 3 families houses this week for dinner: Pastor Jesse Johnson’s, the main teaching pastor at IBC; Chris Hayes, the head of the elder board; and Michael Connor, the director of local and global missions. At each home we enjoyed great times of food, fun and fellowship.