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Update from the President: May 4, 2017

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Update from the President

May 4, 2017

On Monday, we completed the current downstairs phase of a home office remodeling project that has taken us about a year to finish. The final component was the installation of an artistic glasswork display representing the mission of the United Church of God in our entry lobby.

Our remodeling team collaborated with Brazee Street Studios in Cincinnati, who created an artistic glass representation of the world overlaid with the Church’s Mission Statement.

The final installation was completed just prior to the arrival of ministers from all over the world to the Annual Meeting of the General Conference of Elders. Meetings begin tomorrow with a morning session for our international ministry and an afternoon session dedicated to ministerial education with a focus on pastoral development.

It’s a big week ahead with lots of activity. Through our fasting and prayer, we look to God for direction and growth in doing our part in His Work.

We welcome all arriving elders and their wives! A great week ahead awaits us.

Estonia

Johnnie Lambert, our pastor for Buffalo/Elmira, New York, as well as Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, has had problems with his heart and had not been able to travel until now. Even so, the medication he is now on causes him to tire easily.

He and his wife, Hazel, are at their apartment/office in Tartu, Estonia, right now and are working on a six-month backlog of literature requests. Member Valdur Vesingi (http://lifenets.org/estonia/10yrcommitment.html ), has provided considerable help for the Lamberts.

This weekend they are traveling to northern Finland to visit the Klogay Doh family, who are very isolated and very appreciative of visits.

Job Opening

Much of my focus, attention, energy and prayer is devoted to preparing for the future of the Church. We will need new pastors, leaders and various employees. This means identifying people who God is calling and working with to prepare for biblically-defined roles such as pastors, teachers, administrators, and those skilled in foreign languages and various other ways to help the work (Ephesians 4:11 Ephesians 4:11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
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and 1 Corinthians 12:28 1 Corinthians 12:28And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
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).

Whether we have a short or long time before Jesus Christ’s return, we need to be preparing those who will serve the Church’s next generations.

I talked about this type of employee when I addressed the Ambassador Bible College class at the Thursday student forum, and it will be part of my sermon at the meeting of the General Conference of Elders this Sabbath.

I want to talk about a superb employee from the Church’s history. Timothy is referred to 64 times in the New Testament. He was discovered by the apostle Paul just before Christianity spread into Europe from Asia Minor. Timothy has the longest recorded work history with Paul. What made him so appreciated?

It certainly wasn’t his powerful physical presence, experience or impression.

Timothy was young. We don’t know how young, but Paul had to remind him: “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 1 Timothy 4:12Let no man despise your youth; but be you an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
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). Timothy was still young even at the time that Paul wrote this in a letter to him. Paul had to encourage him not to be self-conscious of his youth or youthful look but to go ahead and be an example in the important things.

Paul had to buoy up Timothy’s spirits, which may have fallen: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6 2 Timothy 1:6Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.
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).

Timothy had some sort of chronic ailment, about which Paul advises: “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities” (1 Timothy 5:23 1 Timothy 5:23Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your often infirmities.
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).

So Timothy had shortcomings, like any of us. But what were the traits that made him such a valued employee?

1. Timothy’s Background

Timothy’s mother and grandmother were believing Jewesses who passed on their faith to young Timothy. Paul described this: “When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5 2 Timothy 1:5When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in you, which dwelled first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in you also.
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). Paul further said: “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15 2 Timothy 3:15And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
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). Timothy’s mother married a Greek man.

Timothy’s profile was perfect for an assistant to Paul, who was headed for Europe to evangelize the gentile world. Just before Paul received the well-known “Macedonian call,” beckoning him to Philippi, his first stop in Europe, he discovered young Timothy in Derbe and Lystra in Asia Minor. Timothy was already a disciple, perhaps converted on Paul’s previous evangelistic mission (Acts 16:1 Acts 16:1Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek:
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). Timothy attached himself to Paul later, in Greece, and his career took off.

While we don’t control how and through whom we came into the world, we can maximize the experiences of our past, our heritage and our opportunities for future usefulness. Don’t sell short the relationships, jobs, friends and experiences you’ve had that you can use in your work.

2. Exemplary Caring Nature

In Philippians, we read one of the greatest compliments recorded for all time, as Paul notified the Philippian church, was that he was sending Timothy to help them. “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel” (Philippians 2:19-22 Philippians 2:19-22 19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly to you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20 For I have no man like minded, who will naturally care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. 22 But you know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he has served with me in the gospel.
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).

It was natural for Timothy to be compassionate, kind and thoughtful. This is what serving God means, in large part, and one who displays these traits is well along the path in doing so. If it’s not natural, then learn it, adopt it, and apply it!

Paul further reveals in this passage that Timothy prioritized the needs of others over his own, and that it was from the heart and not from duty. Paul further makes known the close friendship he and Timothy had in their work, as a father to a son.

In the work of God now, we work as a family and have that relationship—not as fellow hirelings just doing a job. We’re here in large part because of a common mission. We see each other at work as well as in our worship on the Sabbath.

3. Organizer—Reliable and Resourceful

Paul had to send or leave Timothy behind to do maintenance work, often dealing with sensitive human relationships. This occurred in a number of churches, including in Berea, Thessalonica and Corinth. Acts 19:21-22 Acts 19:21-22 21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 22 So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered to him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.
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describes Timothy’s assignments in northern and southern Greece: “When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, ‘After I have been there, I must also see Rome.’ So he sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, but he himself stayed in Asia for a time.”

One of Timothy’s assignments was in southern Greece, where he helped manage a fundraiser and a humanitarian relief shipment to Jerusalem, where brethren were stressed in a famine (1 Corinthians 16:1-11 1 Corinthians 16:1-11 1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do you. 2 On the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. 3 And when I come, whomsoever you shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality to Jerusalem. 4 And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me. 5 Now I will come to you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. 6 And it may be that I will abide, yes, and winter with you, that you may bring me on my journey wherever I go. 7 For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. 8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great door and effectual is opened to me, and there are many adversaries. 10 Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he works the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11 Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come to me: for I look for him with the brothers.
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).

Another assignment was in northern Greece, in Thessalonica, where Timothy was to establish and encourage their faith at a time of severe church trial. Timothy was often the go-to person to meet challenges successfully (1 Thessalonians 3:2-5 1 Thessalonians 3:2-5 2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: 3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 4 For truly, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and you know. 5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain.
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).

4. Competent Church Oversight

The most compelling glimpse into the scope of Timothy’s skills is seen through the two letters of the apostle Paul to his “son” Timothy. In his two letters, Paul admonishes Timothy to repress false doctrine, to regulate public worship, to ordain elders and deacons, and above all to be an example to the believers.

The story of Timothy is so encouraging because we see a person of character, integrity and humility achieve beautiful outcomes in the people he served. Such was Timothy and his example to all of us. That applies to all of us as employees, workers and servants, men and women in the service of God.

We’re always on the lookout for a Timothy—one of the finest employees you could ever want to work for you. I’ll hire a Timothy anytime.