White Rock Baptist Church Blog

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Word From the Pastor

Posted Sunday, July 01, 2018

01Jul

Within the last week I have experienced both a high moment of joy and a low point of sorrow. On last Sunday we shared in the celebration marked by the number 50: for 50 years the Women’s Mission Union has existed as a fellowship united in trying to make the mission of Christ live in our church consciousness. Their spirit and activities greatly enriched our worship. Shortly after Sunday I was informed of the death of one of our trustees—Brother Walter Tate—a very faithful, kind and loving person. He was committed to the work of Christ and was encouraging to me and my family. I feel the force of these two realities tugging at my heart. Memory of Brother Tate’s spirit touches my sadness, however, so that gratitude gives strength to respond to my inner void. We pray for his family.

The month of July summons us to continue our celebration of God’s goodness evident “Though the Years. . .” On the third Sunday, July 15, we mark an exciting point in our history connected with the number 60. For 60 years we have worshipped God and served Him in and from this site. We must never take for granted what this place means. Come, recall and rejoice together. That day is also Men’s Day. Let every male of White Rock and every man who’s a friend to a member of White Rock join together in praise to God.

In worship today, we offer to God for His blessing a ministry of the congregation to the children and youth of the community and of the church. Our Summer Enrichment ministry begins tomorrow and continues through August 9. We thank God for those who have worked so hard to give visibility to this calling and pray with confidence for the Holy Spirit’s enabling of them. May the lives of the youth and the families touched by this ministry be marvelously blessed.

The Second Sunday in July is a memorable Sunday and blessing to me. On that Sunday, July 14, 1957 my wife and I were united in marriage. That’s 61 years ago. I thank God for her, for the addition to our family of a son and above all I thank God for His providence in joining us together.

God’s grace and peace be multiplied unto you.

Joy! We are one in the Lord.

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The Gist of the Church School Lesson

Posted Saturday, June 30, 2018

30Jun

Parables of God’s Just Kingdom

Read: Matthew 13.24-43

Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.

Matthew 13.30 (NRSV)

Like all of his parables, this story of “The Wheat and the Weeds” would have been quickly recognized by Jesus’ listeners. In first century Palestine, a person seeking revenge on his adversary might deliberately, but secretly, spread bad seed on a newly sowed field. One typical weed was a plant called darnel. It’s grains were smaller than wheat. If they were milled with wheat, the flour would have a bitter taste. When eaten by humans or animals, darnel caused dizziness. Fortunately, when darnel matured, its flower was easily distinguished from wheat. But, sowing this weed would still provide a perverse pleasure. If undetected, it ruined the crop. And even when the weeds were discovered, the farmer then needed to expend additional hours and effort to separate the good from the bad.

Given these harsh agricultural realities, what is the good news in Jesus’ parable? Jesus said the kingdom of heaven was like the sower (Matthew 13.24); let us focus on his words and actions. The servants seemed distressed. “Where did these weeds come from?” They know their master did not plant them. The master knows it was the work of an enemy. But what the servants see as a problem, in need of an immediate solution, the master understands as the normal situation: good and bad are always mixed together. Often their entanglement is deep and ancient. But not only are there good people and bad people, there is some good in bad people and some bad in good people. If we are honest and caring, we can and do recognize it, in others and ourselves. We have to call it by name. The weed is bad because it was planted where it would do harm. The fight is with the enemy, not the weed. The other thing the master knows is that at the harvest, every plant will be dealt with. There is accountability and it is in the Master’s hands. The farmer might wish to retaliate but only God can rightly judge.

This parable is not just about the church. Mathew 13.34 says Jesus put these saying before the crowd. The wheat and the weeds are everywhere. And so is God’s just kingdom. His way will prevail. And, harvests are not just eventual, they are seasonal.

Reverend Steven B. Lawrence

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Thoughts

Posted Thursday, June 28, 2018

28Jun

There should be an urgency about our listening to Christ because he presents us with urgency –“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” John 9:3-5
Sermon: “Incentives to Serve” 
– Pastor William J. Shaw
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The Gist of the Church School Lesson

Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2018

26Jun

Justice and Sabbath Laws

Lesson and Read: Matthew 12.1-14

I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.

Matthew 12.6-8 (NRSV)

The forth commandment required the sabbath to be kept holy (Exodus 20.8-11). Yet Jesus taught that the Sabbath was made for the benefit of people not people for the Sabbath (Mark 2.27). This lesson talks about the sabbath but it is really about the purpose and the limits of the law.

Jesus’ hungry disciples picked grain and ate it on the sabbath. The Pharisees saw it and took offense; the sabbath law which prohibited work had been violated. Jesus engaged the Pharisees and gave three reason why eating the grain was not a violation. His first example came from the scriptures. The Pharisees would have been familiar with the story of David who, when fleeing from Saul, stopped by the tabernacle and was given the showbread to eat (bread laid out in the sanctuary for the priests, First Samuel 21.1-6). If that was an agreeable exception to the law, then a few hungry men eating a few grains was a small thing (Deuteronomy 23.24-25). Second, each week the priests would slaughter livestock, set out showbread, and burn incense on the sabbath. They were allowed this work because it was done in God’s service. Third, Jesus said the Son of Man was “master even of the sabbath” (Matthew 12.8). Just as the Son of man [had] authority on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9.6), so also he had authority to interpret sabbath law. Then Jesus put his authority to a practical test. He left that place and went to a synagogue where he encountered a man with a withered hand (12. 9-10). Jesus asked aloud, “Is it against the law to do good on the sabbath? If a valuable animal fell into a ditch, wouldn’t you rescue it?” A compromise might be to feed it on the Sabbath and pull it out the next day. But why should a person, who can be helped, be left to suffer because it was the sabbath? To refuse to do good when you can, is to do evil.

Adhering to the law and causing harm was never God’s intent. For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6). The Sabbath laws must also show justice.

Reverend Steven B. Lawrence

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Word From the Pastor

Posted Sunday, June 24, 2018

24Jun

Last Tuesday was June 19—generally called Juneteenth in Texas and many other parts of the South. That date has been and remains a special day because it was the date that news of the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1963 was officially announced in Galveston, Texas in 1865. For two years slavery was illegal! For two years slaves lived in continued servitude because they did not know they had been freed!

For more than a century and a half the former slaves and their descendants have toiled to exercise the rights of freedom in the face of subtle and open fierce opposition by former slave holders, their friends and their descendants to negate freedom. In our own day those opponents of freedom continue to seek to preserve and even expand not just the practices of oppression, but the renewed codification of legal inequities.

The battle continues to inform and urge all persons to claim for themselves the rights of freedom which are legally theirs, and to affirm the moral claims of equality which are theirs/ours by the word/will of God from the days of “In the beginning”.

But we cannot claim these rights and privileges for ourselves if we do not and will not contend for their belonging to all. Let none of us be indolent or idle. Let all of us be active participants in the push for freedoms full birth!

Today we celebrate in White Rock a FIFTY YEAR thrust to involve all women of the Church in a unified effort to declare and share in the fruits of the good news of God’s will for freedom/salvation for all. That unified endeavor formed what we call the Women’s Mission Union. Ours is not just an effort aimed at coordinating events and activities. It is an endeavor to see our intents and actions as a MISSION from God. Such is true not just for the units who are a part of the WMU. It is the truth which should give life to all of our endeavors as the units and people of the Church. Ours is the reflection that we are on a mission from God. May His spirit inform and energize our beings and behaviors. And so, we continue our celebration of 40/50/60/120 in 2018. The end is not yet. The momentum of 120 years should push us to respond wholeheartedly to the kingdom claims of the future!

Joy! We are one in the Lord.


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Verse for Reflection

Posted Sunday, June 24, 2018

24Jun

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

James 1:19
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Thoughts

Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2018

20Jun

[In Job] Satan stated to GOD that Job was serving GOD because of what he was getting from GOD. This is prosperity theology, thinking that people want what GOD has, more than they want GOD. In the face of losing all he had, Job humbled himself and praised GOD.
Sermon: Testings and Temptations 
– Pastor William J. Shaw
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The Gist of the Church School Lesson

Posted Monday, June 18, 2018

18Jun

Rejoicing in Restoration

Read: Leviticus 16.1-27; Psalm 34.122-; Hebrews 2.5-18

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.
Psalm 34.1-3 (NRSV)

The Superscription for Psalm 34 gives us a specific context for the praises that follow. It reads: Of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away. In First Samuel 21, David has been forced to leave Israel because King Saul attempted to kill him. He fled to Gath, one of the major cities of his enemies, the Philistines; and he was soon recognized and reported to the king. Hopelessly outnumbered and greatly afraid, David came up with a desperate plan: he pretended to be mad. He scratched at doors and drooled over his beard and King Achish believed his performance. David was able to escape and later, he wrote Psalm 34.

When David remembered his escape, he did not praise himself for devising such a brilliant plan. He did not call it fate or good luck or providence. No, his boasting was in the LORD (V. 2). God delivered David and so he wrote, “I will never forget to bless God; I will bless God always.” David was doing more than giving thanks when thing turned out for his benefit. He was declaring that praise to God would be continual, no matter what the outcomes may be. In the second verse, David directly addressed the “humble,” (that is, the poor, the meek), to hear him and be glad. He knew that those who depended on God, rather than their own resources, were well acquainted with praise. He further invited them to join in as he magnified the name of the LORD, as he lifted God’s name above all others (v. 3). The rest of the Psalm is testimony and invitation. Listen to others who can tell of God’s gracious deliverance (v. 6). Try it out for yourselves; taste and see that the LORD is good (v. 8).

There is a spiritual challenge here. At the close of a day when nothing is going right, we might be angry, frustrated or sad. David said there is no situation, no occasion, no event, and no time of day when it is inappropriate to bless the LORD.

Reverend Steven B. Lawrence

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Word From the Pastor

Posted Sunday, June 17, 2018

17Jun

Three verses of scripture claim my mind today as we observe the second point of emphasis on our Children and Youth. The first verse is “TRAIN up a child IN THE WAY HE SHOULD GO: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. Proverbs 22:6 These words appear to be directed towards parents and adults. They are surely challenging to us as a congregation.

The second verse is “remember now thy creator IN THE DAYS OF THY YOUTH. . .” Ecclesiastes 12:1 This counsel/charge is directed to the heart and soul of young people themselves. Recognizing God is not reserved for the adults and the aged.

The third verse is: let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: “fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man”. Ecclesiastes 12:13 These words are both counsel and summations of the three scriptures which claim children, youth, adults and the aged.

All these verses have continued to lay hold on me as your Pastor. It is a sobering joy to try and heed them through the ministries of the Church. How do they enlighten the hearts and minds of all entrusted with the specific responsibilities of oversight and leadership to children and youth? How do they temper our attitudes and actions as a total congregation?

Of course, these three verses bow to the concern of Jesus Christ for children and young adults.

Young people, please know that your Pastor and the people of this flock take pride in you and have great hopes for you in the Lord. May God’s grace and peace be multiplied unto you.

And now a reminder to all of us as we celebrate the totality of our 120 years as a Church: next Sunday is an accent on “50”! Counting back from 2018, 50 years we arrive at 1968. That’s the year the Women’s Mission Union was organized. We lift in sincere praise and gratitude to God the commitment to His mission charge by the women of White Rock. To God be the glory! May our Lord find even greater manifestations of His hold on our hearts and our response to His mission entrustment as we enter into the years yet ahead of us by His grace.

Joy! We are one in the Lord.


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Thoughts

Posted Friday, June 15, 2018

15Jun

God doesn't permit us to get away with just talking about how God loves and cares for people. We have to show that love and caring [to all]
Sermon: Among Jesus' Last Words 
- Pastor William J. Shaw