A Message From the President
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Stephen Orian
President
When I was a pastor in Weslaco, Texas, we lived some 875 miles from two sets of Grandmas and Grandpas.  Every summer and over the Christmas and New Year holiday season, Micki and I, along with our two boys, would head home to spend a few days with our families.  Travel is always an adventure, but with two preschool boys it was more than an adventure.  Anyone who has children and has spent any time on the road has heard all the variety of questions they ask. “Are we almost there yet?” “How much farther is it?”  “How soon will we be there?”  However, interspersed among all those progress inquiries were numerous requests to stop and get something to eat, something to drink, go to the bathroom, or take in some curious point of interest along the way! 
 
If we are honest with ourselves, there is a little bit of that same spirit in all of us.  We have an impatient drive to get to our destination, to accomplish our goals and objectives.  Yet somehow we fail to factor in all the detours and side excursions that capture our attention and still expect the time used up in those pursuits to count towards our onward progress of the main objective.
 
In our spiritual journey to the Kingdom of Heaven, all of us are prone at one time or another to ask the same kinds of questions asked by our boys.  We ask, “when is Jesus going to return?’ “I wonder why the Lord hasn’t come back yet.” “Why is the Lord delaying His coming?’  While we are asking these questions, most of us are failing to take into account the detours and diversions that we are stepping out on in an effort to fulfill other agendas and pursuits.  However, somehow a connection is not being made that while we are busy in doing a lot of “good things” those “good things” may not be contributing to the ultimate goal of getting us closer to Jesus and His Kingdom.
 
This same kind of evaluation may be helpful on a corporate level.  How are we tracking as a church?  How are we tracking as a conference?  Are we making progress in reaching our goals and objectives?  Are our churches safe places where literally anyone can come and find acceptance, love, forgiveness and encouragement in their walk with the Lord?  Is soul-winning still of the highest priority?  Do our young people sense a deep commitment from their church in the way we plan and provide for them through opportunities of service and experience?  Have we committed our time and resources for an Adventurer Club, Pathfinder Club, or the opportunity for our children to attend summer camp at Camp Yorktown Bay?  Are our church schools and Ozark Adventist Academy still of highest priority that we are willing to continue to sacrifice and invest of our means?  As the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference moves toward the kingdom of heaven today, is it staying on course?  Or are we allowing time for detours, as important as they may seem that are actually not in our best interest?
 
I urge you to keep pressing forward “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14).  I encourage you to keep looking forward to the sights of our heavenly home.  The journey won’t be long now.  Yet we must not allow anything to sidetrack us or to take our eyes off Jesus.  We really are “almost there” for our heavenly Father is coming soon to take us home…at last!