Viewpoints on 2019 LLC Board Members Workshop
Harri Vahajylkka, Phoenix
It was touching to hear a few participants speak about their own experiences in understanding faith in God while they were in unbelief, and then later through the Holy Spirit after having received the grace of repentance. Many questions of faith and salvation did not open unto them at all without God’s Holy Spirit. One brother said the presentation would not have opened to him in his former state of unbelief. He was as if blind. Now, as a believer, his heart rejoiced over the heard word of God.
In the presentation and in subsequent speeches it was emphasized how faith cannot be had by reading, understanding or drawing one’s own conclusions. Faith comes by hearing, as the Bible states. A person can never solve the mystery of faith. In childlike faith he or she receives the measure of understanding that God sees fit. That is sufficient.
When we examine God’s Word in the light of the Holy Spirit, our souls are nourished and become full. If, on the other hand, we examine it through human reason or understanding, our heart does not become full, but rather questions we have are always followed by new questions. The Holy Spirit is the key to understanding Scripture, as Apostle Paul notes (1 Cor. 2:13–14).
Wendy Simonson, Saskatoon
Joy and hope mingle with trepidation and uncertainty as I arrive to the LLC Board Members Workshop. Joy stemming from the anticipation of gathering with fellow travelers in faith; uncertainty regarding how the day will unfold with current concerns in North American congregations.
Hundreds of voices unite in song, and a shiver runs through me as beautiful singing fills the sanctuary. A whispered thought: “Be comforted, God is present here.” The familiar tidings of the beauty of God’s kingdom are heard in the opening devotion, welcome, and the presentation, “The Congregation of God and the Holy Spirit.”
My thoughts turn to song 127, Holy Spirit, heav’nly treasure: “As the dew is shed each morning to revive the fields of green, when You shed Your gifts of healing, fruits of living faith are seen. Make us humble, swift to hear, slow to anger, and sincere. Let your love and pity bind us, let no bitter envy blind us.” The prayer in this song illustrates the hopes of those gathered at this meeting.
After the presentation, speech after speech testify of the mysteries of living faith, revealed through the Holy Spirit. Humble speeches. Individuals young and old, from many walks of life, cultures and languages, sharing their experiences and the power of the gospel in their lives. The proclamation of the forgiveness of sins flows freely again and again, releasing from burdens. Heartfelt psalms, spoken by those who have left faith, then received the grace of repentance. In unbelief there were so many questions and doubts, lost understanding. God awakens, the gospel is yearned for and heard. Eyes are opened, questions disappear as snow melting in sunshine, understanding is renewed. The kingdom of heaven shines brightly, footsteps lighten, love returns.
Yet, there is a voice, another voice, questioning, confusing. Prayers arise: Heavenly Father, continue to reveal the truth of Your Word to us all through the Holy Spirit. Protect us all so that not one would be lost.
The meeting ends, to continue on another day. God will provide a way; we can trust in Him.
Becky Randall, Elk River
Two hundred and sixty-one voices proclaimed in song, “This song from heaven can be heard, from birds of Zion singing, when by the gracious gospel Word with joy their hearts are burning.” The words from SHZ 564 reflected the joy felt in individual hearts when the gospel was preached over and over again at the Board Members Workshop.
Participants acknowledged the weariness felt during recent years in discussions over spiritual concerns. Yet, the joy of being a believer was evident. Doctrinal topics of confession, justification and righteousness were discussed, but through multiple speeches, God reminded that we can simply believe with child-like faith. When the first question is, “Can I believe,” difficult questions no longer remain. Understanding follows repentance.
We left the workshop trusting in the words of the last verse of the song, “The Savior cares for all His own, His little sparrows knowing. He gives them food along the way, His bloody wounds He’s showing. From there His birds will find new strength and everlasting sustenance and life and peace unending.”
Kofi Agbowada, Rockford
Dear brothers and sisters, beloved ones, may the peace of God Almighty be with you. I thank the LLC for the effort it provided for this meeting. It was so wonderful to attend this workshop where again I found hope to continue believing as a child of God.
At the end of the devotion and the presentations, my heart rejoiced and said Amen by the simple encouragement to believe all sins forgiven in Jesus’ name and blood. I'm so fortunate to be in the unity of this family of God. I can trust that the good Shepherd will always care for his flock. God’s peace.
Jason Parks, Saskatoon
I arrived at the workshop with feelings of weakness, doubts and fears, but my prayer was that God would be present and guide our time together. It was comforting to learn through the speeches that I wasn’t alone and that many others came to the workshop from a similar position.
Many were the speeches that expressed how good it felt to be there. Many personal psalms and simple confessions of faith were shared. God was present through the Holy Spirit and we felt His guiding hand. We were reminded and assured that we can still believe as we always have: all sins and doubts forgiven in the name and blood of Jesus.
My heart rejoiced as the meeting concluded that God had preserved me and many other brothers and sisters in the simple faith that remains unchanged from yesterday, through today and forever. With love, I want to remember those who struggle, that they may yet hear the loving voice of the Holy Spirit. May God open their understanding that they—and all believers—could believe upon the age-old salvation message of God’s kingdom.
Keith Waaraniemi, Minneapolis
Throughout the long day, I felt the Holy Spirit was speaking through the servants gathered there. The workshop revealed how God’s children in North America are overall one in Spirit and understanding. I share the joy of so many over the opening devotion, the presentation and many comments made in the discussion period. According to His timetable, God is clarifying the questions and concerns of recent years.
As I listened to the speeches, I was reminded of the need for servants to keep faith and good conscience and remain faithful to the Good Shepherd. While acknowledging the work of the enemy trying to divide the flock, I encourage fellow workers and all of God’s children to remain hopeful and trusting, remembering what we heard: “the battle is the Lord’s.”
April 2019 Board Members Workshop