Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.
These words of praise from Revelation 7 echo the praise that is in my heart for the good and gracious One who sits on the throne of heaven. On May 31st, Victoria Grace Heinen became Victoria Grace Greenawalt as she and Noah made vows to each other before God and those present. Please pray for these kids to continue to grow in their love for Jesus as they also grow in their love for each other. I am so proud of them for handling with patience and grace the trials of getting married in the midst of a pandemic. This meant no bridal shower (and no presents!), few guests, and lots of uncertainty. I will share a few pictures here, but encourage you to look Victoria up on Facebook and ask her for more wonderful pics.
Rebekah and her new husband, Tim, were not able to travel to Arkansas from New Jersey because of COVID. She was heartbroken that she couldn’t come. We weren’t able to stream the service to her because the venue had no internet service, but she is enjoying every photo Sissy shares. Even with the pandemic, she and Tim are enjoying wonderful opportunities to reach people for Jesus. Rebekah has a wonderful online presence (check out her Facebook page, Rebekah Hope Thorpe, for encouragement and her own beautiful wedding shots) and hopes the office that issues social worker licenses reopens soon. Tim is finding opportunities to preach and has been recently hired to work at a drug and alcohol rehab center. We are so thankful for all God is doing in and through them!
Maria was the Master of Ceremonies for the 164th Homecoming of the Appleton Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The COVID-19 version of this anniversary was unique, but those who came enjoyed themselves. I praise God for those who came to know Jesus over the years because of the faithful witness of believers who called this church home. Maria did a terrific job. She continues to do childcare Monday-Friday. This past Sunday she took two cases of water to refresh those attending a local protest. She also held up a sign reminding those present of the words of Jesus, “Love one another, just as I have loved you.” (She refused to give me a picture of her at the event. I guess she is camera shy.)
Leah really enjoyed participating in the wedding, although in doing so she wore herself out for the next several days. She is praying continually for family and friends in the Twin Cities with the little energy she does have. Rebekah and Victoria both had to copy Leah’s pose at our own wedding just a few years ago.
The incredible joys of these past few weeks have been sandwiched in between the harsh realities of dealing with a global pandemic and national racial unrest and division. My heart truly aches for those struggling with COVID and/or other physical ailments. I am filled with sadness as I see people lose loved ones to death. I am heart-stricken as I hear stories about friends losing jobs and experiencing financial hardship. Like you, I was shocked and then brought to tears viewing the video of an unarmed black man murdered by someone who took an oath to protect and serve. I am horrified as I listen to stories of racism that my friends of different skin tones deal with regularly. I still can’t process what I felt as I watched on television sections of a city I once called home burned to the ground. Time after time I could do nothing but run to my Heavenly Father in prayer. I felt guilty for having to turn off news reports and for taking breaks from social media. Did this mean I didn’t care enough? How can hope and joy fill the same space as heartache and despair?
Reading the text from Revelation quoted earlier gave me insight into that difficult question. The book of Revelation begins with a breathtaking vision of the glorified Jesus Christ as He now is reigning from His heavenly throne. The book ends with Jesus our King defeating even death itself and then bringing heaven and earth together as He rules over all creation. Those redeemed by His shed blood have the hope of joining with Him for all eternity. In between are chapters full of the rebellion of mankind directed toward His loving kingship and the resulting cycles of horrific judgment and wrath that follow. The message of Revelation is intended to be encouragement for followers of the King who see chaos and suffering all around them. The reminder is that Jesus is the victor who is now on His throne and will one day come to make all things right. No wonder this terrifying book is filled with praise to the One who fills our suffering with hope and joy:
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
And no wonder the final cry of those awaiting the fullness of His reign is Come, Lord Jesus!
Please pray that even with my physical limitations I will glorify my King. Pray that with my limited influence I will still make Him known. I am doing some counseling through the internet and am preparing to do some online small group sessions related to reconciliation, healing, and evangelism. I will give you details later. I struggle with overwhelming fatigue in addition to the limitations that severe neuropathy in my feet, legs, and hands bring. I don’t have my disability hearing until the end of July. Please pray for Leah and I to experience God’s provision until then. My heart is incredibly burdened for all that my friends are going through. Please message me as to how I can pray for you during these challenging times.
Enjoy a few more wedding pics!
Rev. Brian Heinen
802 E 23rd Street Russellville, AR 72802