White Rock Baptist Church Blog

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The Gist of the Church School Lesson

Posted Wednesday, March 20, 2019

20Mar

Called to Sacrifice

Lesson and Read: Mark 1.16-20; Luke 14.25-33

Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14.26-27 (NRSV)

This lesson presents two pictures of discipleship. One comes from the start of Jesus’ ministry (Mark 1.16-20) and one from perhaps its zenith (Luke 14.25-35).

In Mark, Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee and called out to two sets of brothers, Simon and Andrew, James and John. These fishermen dropped their nets and immediately followed after Jesus. Other gospels (Luke 5.1-10; John 1.35-51) indicate that this was not the first meeting between Jesus and these men. They did make a radical decision but they did not leave their businesses without counting the cost. In Luke 14, Jesus’ popularity was at its height. Many “followers” were not disciples. (Today we might say Jesus was “trending,” i.e., the “thing” of the moment). Jesus spoke a word to sober the wild enthusiasm of the crowd. He was on his way to Jerusalem where arrest, torture and crucifixion awaited him. Anyone who would be his disciple had to expect a similar destiny. Jesus was looking for recruits, not spectators. In stark language, Jesus described the cost of true discipleship. Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple (v. 26). The Semitic mind was comfortable with the extreme hyperbole; “hate” described an undivided loyalty. However, the choice to follow Jesus was not to be wholly governed by emotion. The parables in verses 28-25 suggested that one must count the cost of discipleship. A poor or uncalculated decision could be foolish (the inability to finish a tower) or tragic (the slaughter of an outnumbered army).

Jesus challenges us. Do we consider what we have (possessions, positions, relationships) to be of greater value than our commitment to him? What we have will not last; it is like the salt compound found around the Dead Sea, which did lose its flavor and was then useless. The cross of Christ is more than an ornamental accessory. Following Jesus is not a guarantee of comfort; it is a call to sacrifice.

Reverend Steven B. Lawrence

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Word From the Pastor

Posted Sunday, March 17, 2019

17Mar

WHERE ARE YOU GOING? WHY?
Ephesians 3:16-21 (The Voice)

I am sure that you agree with me that our worship on last Sunday was both celebratory and challenging. We thank God for the power of His spirit present in each event in the total atmosphere of our gathering. May God bless each of you for your presence and participation. Thank you for your words and gifts of love.

Your continued prayers are sought as we seek to discern more clearly God’s summons to our lives in 2019 and beyond. Pray, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that in discerning we will resolutely embrace His summons to the utmost of our capabilities. Let us ask the Lord, in all of our gatherings of worship and of personal interactions, for the collective minds/hearts to say, “WE will TRY”, O’ Lord to do and be Your people.

Two months from today we will observe Women’s Day. Sister Lisa Welch serves as the Chairlady for the celebration and Sister Renee Wynn Ellis, daughter of the Church, will be our guest speaker. Every woman (and man)— whether young, mature or aged—is asked to identify specific arenas in which you will seek to grow in grace as a person and in your relationships as members as the Body of Christ. What blessings await us as we experience the joys of our possibilities made real.

God’s grace and peace be multiplied unto you. . .

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Verse for Reflection

Posted Saturday, March 16, 2019

16Mar

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at him and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 

Deuteronomy 6: 6-7

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The Gist of the Church School Lesson

Posted Thursday, March 14, 2019

14Mar

Our Rescuing God

Read: Psalm 91.1-16

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.

Psalm 91.11-12 (NRSV)

The theme of Psalm 91 is the protection that God gives to those who trust him. Consider the number of words used to describe the act of protection: “shelter,” “shadow” (v. 1); “refuge,” “fortress” (v. 2); “cover,” “shield and buckler” (v. 4); “dwelling place” (v. 9). This psalm may have been part of a liturgy performed by those entering or leaving the temple (the shelter of the Most High) seeking God’s safekeeping from dangers physical (robbers) and spiritual (demons).

According to the Hebrew, this psalm begins with the testimony of the psalmist. “I will say of the Lord . . .” (v. 2). He invites his listeners to likewise put their trust in the Lord (vv. 4-13). At the close, God makes the promises; “I will show them my salvation” (v. 16). God is referred to as “the Most High” (elyon) and “the Almighty” (shaddai) because God is able to protect from every peril. There are unexpected dangers like the snare set by a trapper and there are overwhelming threats like a fatal plague (v. 3). God’s sheltering is personal like a parent (a bird extending his wings) and it is pervasive like a soldier’s shield and buckler (surrounding armor, v. 4). God is present to deliver day or night, in deepest darkness or at high noon (vv. 5-6). The “scourge” and “plague” sound like diseases but they could also be demonic spirits; the “wings” could be those of the cherubim atop the Ark of the Covenant. Or they could belong to the “guardian angels” (see Exodus 23.20) dispatched by God to keep close watch lest that slightest threat comes near (vv. 11-12). Perhaps the most powerful and convincing verses are 14-16. The Lord says those who have “set their love on me” know my name. Therefore, when they call, the Lord will answer. God will be present. God will rescue. God will honor. God will extend life. They will fully experience (see) God’s salvation.

There is a divine promise or an assurance of help in almost every verse of Psalm 91! One could easily call this the psalm of our rescuing God.

Reverend Steven B. Lawrence