Elder Dickie Halbgewachs

Letter from the administrator – 2018

Dear Harmony Plains Singing School Friends,

The 55th session of Harmony Plains Singing School will be held Sunday evening, July 15 through Friday night July 20, 2018. We greatly look forward to seeing everyone, singing praises, and enjoying the presence of God. Our theme this year is Love and Patience, and the text is II Thessalonians 3:5, “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.” Our Hymn is “Be Still My Soul,” number 179 in the OSH #11.

Christianity is definitely love, God is love and God loves us (I John 4:8,10), and we are to love God and our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). In all actuality, we all love singing school for this very thing—it is a place of love.

Christianity is definitely patience; we are to run our race with patience, be patient, and to add patience to faith virtue, knowledge, and temperance (Hebrews 12:1, James 5:7, II Peter 1:6). We all know that much of the evidence of loving someone is being patient with them, and I sure need loved ones to be patient with me and especially for the Lord to be longsuffering with me.

So how does one love the Lord and be patient in waiting for Christ? Not a minor point!! Growing as a Christian is not going out and getting what we don’t have, getting more patience, obtaining more of God’s love. Christian growth is growing in living in the reality of what we already have.

The love of God is not His giving us anything and everything we want. Our love of God is rooted in an humble and moving realization of his love for us. Patience in waiting for Christ is not His revealing to us the time and place of the events of our lives. Our patient waiting for Christ is deeply trusting his wisdom and faithfulness day by day and remembering that as he was taken up so will he come again and receive us unto himself.

Gaining love and patience, then, is not about our striving for it. Growing in love and patience is about our hearts being directed into the realization of how much we already possess. We grow to be more like Jesus the more we come to understand what we already have in Jesus.

One reason we may not have love to the degree we ought is because our hearts are not directed or focused as deeply as they could be on the love that it took to cleanse us from our sins. Christian joy is the direct result of remembering deeply God’s love for us. If we fail to remember our justification, redemption, reconciliation, and glorification we will struggle in our sanctification.

One reason we may not have patience as fully as we ought may also be our heart’s direction. Perhaps we need to be more directed into the patient waiting for Christ when he will be fully revealed in us. With our hearts more focused upon him we would find the world less drawing, the minutes less fleeting and our nerves less taunt. With our hearts upon him, we would be less directed on what depresses us.

All through the bible there are exhortations for us to become practically what we already are positionally in Christ. Learning gospel truths initially and rediscovering gospel truths ongoingly is the heart of every aspect of our service to our Lord and one another. The gospel first revealed we were in Christ and revealed how much the Lord loved us. It is the gospel that reminds us of the very same truths again and again. It is in the gospel that our heart’s patient waiting for Christ goes from hazy to clear, from black and white to color.

We all know we don’t love as we want to love and are not being as patient as we want to be. God says we will grow in our understanding of his will, we will be filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding, and we will be strengthened with his love and patient waiting as our hearts are directed to the understanding and realization that we are already presently qualified, delivered, transformed, redeemed, and forgiven (Colossians 1:9-11).

I pray you are making plans to come to Cone, Texas this summer. I also pray that during our time together we will be strengthened in our fellowship with each other and be direct more into love and patience.

Can’t wait to see you.

In Christ,

Brother Dickie Halbgewachs

Elder Dickie Halbgewachs

Letter from the administrator – 2017

Dear Harmony Plains Singing School friends,

I pray I have the blessing of seeing you this July 16th to the 21st at the 54th session of Harmony Plains Singing School. The joys of being together, visiting, and singing are indeed a rich treasure of the Lord. Our theme for 2017 is Jesus His Name It Shall Be Called, our text is Matthew 1:21, and our hymn is #176 from the Old School Hymnal, 11th Edition.

The angel announced to Joseph that Mary was with child and would bring forth a Son by the Holy Ghost and his name was to be called Jesus. The name Jesus means Savior. Jesus Christ came into the world and saved his people from their sins.

Sin turns us inward. Sin makes life be about things I want, things I need, all the things I feel. Sin make us shift the blame. We pray to God and say remove the people, change the circumstances, alter the results, and we’ll be OK, but our problem is different than we think, deeper than we imagine. Sin shrinks us down to the confines of our wants, our desires, our needs, our feelings. Sin is self-obsessed, self-focused, it inserts us into the center of our own world, it makes us full of ourselves.

We are all tempted to demote God to a power who is to cater to our every whim or is to meet our every need. “Not happy? Not married? Not attractive? Not fulfilled? Not successful??? Come to Christ and he will give you everything you ask for!” God, though, is not primarily in the business of meeting our needs, and Christianity must not be reduced to a God meeting our needs; to do so distorts the heart of the Christian message.

Sin is more than rebellion, more than immorality. Sin in the human heart takes good things and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them in the sense that they become the center of our lives. We will do anything to achieve them, anything at all. It drives us to break rules we say we honor, harm others we say we love, and deceive ourselves to get our desires. Sin is actually our heart’s fondest desire, and ends up being our soul’s most slaving addiction.

Sin is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.” Such a relationship to anything or anyone is worship. The greater the experience, the more likely we expect it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes, and it is often the very best things in life.

Old pagans may have understood more than we give them credit. They had work gods: money gods, sex gods, nation gods, etc. Anything can be a god if it rules the heart of a person or their life. If we don’t face this, we will never understand ourselves. We say, “Clean up your life; just do it.”  This doesn’t work. We must ask what is going on inside of our heart. The sin underneath all our sin is the sin of unbelief that “Jesus Is All We Need.”

Whether you know it or not you need the text and hymn and theme for 2017, because each reminds us of Jesus, our actual need. Jesus has saved us from the just punishment for our sin eternally, and this truth delivers us from the pursuit of justifying ourselves through any other means daily. It is said you must see yourself as worthy, see yourself as good, and see yourself as successful. Instead, the gospel says Jesus Christ has amassed a perfect record in our behalf, and he has given it to us. He lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died in our place, so that our sins are pardoned and we are counted righteous in his sight. Now, completely accepted and loved by the only One in the universe whose opinions really count, we can site Mt 1:21 and joy in the ultimate victory even though we face ongoing difficulty.

The point here is that your self worth, your self image, is not based on what an individual or any circumstance is saying about you or doing to you. To the degree we have genuine gospel belief, to that degree we are not disabled by life because we understand we are deeply loved in Christ. In genuine gospel belief, we can afford to be generous and forgive when wronged by others because we have been so generously loved and forgiven in Christ.

Without Christ gospely massaged deep into our hearts, we will be driven by all kinds of fears, desires, and needs. If I look to any person, thing, or circumstance to fill my heart, I will always be sinning; I will always deduce that God is not loving me well enough, not respecting me nearly enough, or not supporting me half enough.

What if we were so immersed in Christ’s love and care, his promises and accomplishments, his counsels and encouragements, that they dominated our inner life, capturing our imagination, and bubbling out spontaneously when we faced some challenge? Then, my friend, we would say as the last verse of our hymn, “O blessed Jesus my dear Friend, Alone I look to Thee; And when my little life shall end, I pray remember me.”

In Him alone,

Brother Dickie