Our Children and Our Future

Hats Off! to our Pre-school and Children’s Departments for leading us in Worship Sunday morning. The worship service Sunday morning made me realize how well the Lord has blessed Walnut Street Baptist Church with young families and children.

It is of no little significance that our youth gladly assisted our children as directed and needed. By the way, there were 17 youth in Sunday School with almost as many on Wednesday night for Bible Study and prayer. Where does that happen?  Perhaps in a congregation with a paid youth staff will you find as many youth consistently present and active as our youth are.

This prompts me to mention how much I appreciate all who volunteer to make a service like Sunday morning a reality. Our children and preschool volunteers include, Alan & Karen Dover, Linda Holt, Linda Garlinghouse, Debbie Henson, Carla Bishop, Lois Anderson, Anna Bishop, and Jamie Robison. Thank you Karen, Linda and Debbie for all your planning, and to Mike Garlinghouse for flapping all the flap jacks!

Further, I am prompted to mention how much I am looking forward to worshipping on Walnut Lane. The multi-purpose building will be a tremendous asset and tool not only in keeping our young families and children but also to reach out and attract more. We can’t teach until we reach!

I am looking forward to celebrating many more children’s days and I am also looking forward to celebrating them on Walnut Lane.  Aren’t you?

This Little Light of Mine

As I write this the events of Monday at the Boston Marathon continue to unfold. According to Reuters news service there are 3 dead, 170 plus wounded, 17 critical, at least 20 have lost limbs, and the toll just keeps climbing.

Debbie’s brother in law, David had finished the 26 mile marathon and was safe
at his hotel room when the blast occurred. My sister, Kathleen and Her husband work in Boston. However, they had flown into Logan airport returning from vacation and left the city by 10 AM. (It was a birthday vacation. Kathleen turned 52 on April 16th. Just saying! )

We offer up our prayers and condolences to the families and friends of those who have been so tragically affected by this cowardly act of terrorism!

In the midst of this fallen world’s greatest evil the greatest acts of love and compassion are unleashed. “Every act of evil unleashes a million acts of kindness. This is why shadows will never win while there is still light to shine.”
-Aaron Paquette

Remember the song we used to sing?

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel – NO! I’m gonna let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel – NO! I’m gonna let it shine, Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

May the light of Jesus within us shine today and disperse the darkness around us! Let’s all sing together!

We Labor Together With God,

 

A Sunday Preview

My friend Sam White shared this message on his blog. I wish to share it with you. Sunday morning I am preaching from John 21:1-19. I may just preach Sam’s message!

LOVE–FEED MY SHEEP from samspews by Sam White

God loves us—do we love Him?  Jn 21:15-23

Context—A third appearance of Jesus to his disciples after the resurrection.  Galilee—beside Sea of Galilee—disciples fishing.  Early morning—disciples fishing overnight—Jesus calls out to them about their catch—tells them again where to fish.  They have a large catch—then come in and Jesus has fire and food for them.

Reinstatement of Simon Peter—Peter leader of the Apostles and the inner circle.  Important that Jesus feels Jesus’ forgiveness and is on same page as Jesus.  Would lead their ministry from this point on.

Three times Peter denied—three times Jesus asks Peter whether he loves Jesus.  Interesting that Jesus uses different word for love than Peter uses.  Jesus word more committed word than Peter uses.  Has Peter learned a lesson about himself from the denial?

Before crucifixion, Peter had said “Even though all fall away, I will never fall away.”  Discussion had gone on among disciples as to who was greatest of them and who deserved the most important places when Jesus came into His kingdom.

Seems also some competition between Peter and John—even later here we may find that.

First time, Jesus asks, “Do you love me more than these?”  Could mean “do you love me more than the others love me,” or “Do you love me more than fishing or vocation,” or “Do you love me more than you love the other men with you?”

Probably the first is best, “Do you love me more than the others love me.”  Wasn’t that much of Peter’s statements before—“Even if all fall away, I will never”?  Jesus, surely I love you more than the others do!

“Do you love me—with a deeply committed love?”  Twice Jesus asks this.  Peter respond by saying, “I love you with the love of friend for friend.”  Less commitment than Jesus asked.

Last time, Jesus uses the word for friendly love in asking Peter, “Do you love me?”  Peter is perturbed that Jesus asked again, but responds again, “You know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus response to Peter’s response, “I love you” is “Feed my sheep, feed my lambs, take care of my sheep.” So, Peter, if you really love me then serve those I love—those I died for—those who need a shepherd.  The Good Shepherd would be gone—Peter is now the leader in place of Jesus.

What is Jesus’ saying?  Do what is best, not just for you, but for the others I love, if indeed you love me. Sounds similar to the second great commandment, “Love you neighbor.”

What does Jesus do here for Peter?

1.      Jesus forgives—Jesus focused on Thomas in the previous chapter—now He focuses on forgiving Peter.  “Yes, you denied me three times, but I forgive you three times also.  Sin is atoned for—you are forgiven.”  What a great relief to Peter!

2.      Jesus gives Peter  the primary position back—He had been in the first position—Jesus right-hand man before.  Would denial disqualify him from that place?  No, Jesus reinstates him to that place—God called and God overcame whatever was necessary for him to serve in that place.

3.      Jesus also calls Peter to serve—If you truly love me, then serve others I love and others I died for. Provide them with the things a shepherd would provide for the sheep he takes care of.  Think of them and their needs and provide what is necessary.

4.      Jesus says to Peter, “follow me.”  The way to keep from denying Jesus—the key to staying in your position—the way to serve others effectively is what?  To follow Jesus.  Following Jesus is listening to Him and obeying Him and doing life His way.

Interesting that Peter still struggles with this.  He hears of his own death, and asks “what about John”?  Jesus says to focus on himself because that is his concern.  Comparing himself with another is not to be his focus. Comparison so often gets us in trouble, doesn’t it.

Instead of comparison, just follow Jesus.

You and I are also:

1.      Forgiven

2.      Given a place in God’s kingdom

3.      Called to serve Jesus by serving others

4.      Called to follow Jesus above other people and other things in life.

So according to this question, “Do you love me?”  What is your response?

And are you living out of God’s purpose for you—a purpose to serve others and a purpose to follow Jesus above other things in life?

The only one who disqualifies you for service is you.  Jesus is willing to forgive, to reinstate us, to give us a place to serve and a way to serve and people to serve.  And the way to do that is to “follow Jesus.”