The events of the last week brought to light the reality of evil harbored in the hearts of humankind. I do not personally know anyone that has expressed a strong belief that any race is inherently superior to another, or of any people group to another; yet, I do know that such beliefs are held by many, as displayed this week, and that there is a desire by some to see that ideology accepted and even embraced and promoted. One may argue that the free expression of these beliefs is a right, but in this rhetoric, where are the values of compassion, equality and the worth and dignity of every human being? These are core beliefs that we cite as setting our nation apart. Acts of violence, destruction, oppression and the taking of lives are manifestations of evil that has conditioned one’s mind and heart to believe such an ideology is justifiable. It is counter to what we hold as being the backbone of our country and, for those who are Christians, it makes a mockery of what we hold most dear, our faith in Jesus the Christ. There is nothing in the life and teachings of Jesus that even hint that such views, beliefs or actions can be condoned, much less held and acted on by anyone who professes to follow Christ.
How does the Church and in turn the individual Christian speak to this issue without letting our own outrage prompt an emotional and possibly destructive response? Though difficult, our call is to promote the cause of Christ in all situations; to speak truth and love into situations of evil and hate and to pray that the Spirit of Christ will guide us in what to say and do.
An online devotional I regularly read invites this week’s readers to consider how faith affects the way one lives each day by asking these questions: Does your faith strongly influence the way you live each day? Is your faith more knowledge, belief or trust? Using the text of Matthew 14:22-33, the writer describes the event of Jesus walking on water towards the disciples who find themselves in their small boats fighting the winds and the sea as they cross the Sea of Galilee at night. You, no doubt, know this account well and the scriptural description of how an eager, faith-filled Peter steps out of the boat and successfully walks on the water until the wind and the waves catch his eye and he begins to doubt. When he doubts and takes his eyes off of Jesus, he begins to sink into the sea. He cries out for Jesus to save him and Jesus does. He pulls him up and then says to Peter, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Peter had knowledge of who Jesus was and he believed that he was the Son of God. But he wavered in trusting that Jesus would, or could, help him to do what he could not do within his own power. There is a message in this for all who follow Christ today. If we think and plan and attempt only those things for God that are based on knowledge and belief but without trusting, our lives will be lived “in the boat.” Never will we experience the exhilaration and joy that comes with trusting the one who can take the weight and darkness of circumstances that seem so dire and transform them bringing light, hope and life. Trust creates an understanding and invitation to offer authentic words of praise, adoration and devotion as the disciples did in the boat when they said, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
When Jesus says to each of us, “Come,” may we have faith strong enough to trust and then to get out of the safety and security of our “boat” and truly follow. It is only then that our lives are really changed.
Cameron Shepard 8/2
Tracy Nicholson 8/6
Cedric Williams 8/9
Bonnie Lessman 8/9
Dawn Kelley 8/11
Michael Gill 8/17
Ivan Brooks 8/18
Terri Staples 8/24
Vanda Hicks 8/25
Vic Nigri 8/28
Patrick Murphy 8/28
Brenda Tidwell 8/29
Marilyn Shepard 8/31
8/1 Birmingham Area Sacred Harp Singers – 6pm
8/2 Church-wide Business Conference – 6pm
8/3 Men’s Lunch and Bible Study – 12pm 8/13 Reception for Sarah Buchanan – 12:05 pm
8/13 Jazz Vespers – 6pm
8/17 Men’s Lunch and Bible Study – 12pm
8/21 Deacon’s Meeting – 6pm
8/27 Special service with Rev. Steve Jones and Rabbi Jonathan Miller at 11am. Covered-dish luncheon to follow at 12:05pm.
Another 5-Pts Neighborhood Association “Clean and Clear 5-Pts” clean up day is in the books! This month, we cleared out the walking trails at Valley View Park at the top of 19th St. South. It was a sweltering day but we enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people and get our hands dirty … very dirty.
This go-round, we produced:
26 – Volunteers (5 member tree crew)
91 – Volunteer Hours
792 – Feet of trails cleaned & cleared
1232 – Pounds of trash and debris
There will be another Clean and Clear 5-Pts event in the upcoming month so stay tuned for more details. With more college students back in town and new businesses opening, we’ll want to make an extra effort to get out and meet our neighbors!
For more information on ways to get involved with the 5-Pts Neighborhood Association, you can email Stephen Foster (firstname.lastname@example.org) or contact the church office.
A2 is a congregational/family ministry of the Deacons of Southside Baptist Church. Based in a firm belief that, “we love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19), we share God’s love with current and future families related to our community of faith. Agape love is God’s love. It’s a love that is grace-filled, unconditional, unending, and permanent. It’s best represented through the life and resurrection of Christ and inspired by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
God’s love and grace for us is life-changing and available to all. It takes courage to open the door to God’s grace, to believe you are loved and accepted by God. Each one of us practiced radical hospitality when we opened the door to God. “Jesus not only loved those no one else loved, but his grace extended to the unlovable, hidden parts of those who lived otherwise good and faith filled lives.”
A2 is about sharing God’s love with those in our congregation, the people yet to come, and the wider community to which we are called to serve. A2 is our team approach to sharing the love of God that has so radically accepted and transformed us.
Our new deacons and those that have rotated back on have recently received their family assignments and will be reaching out to you to ensure they are supporting you in the ways you most need it. But we are all here together so Deacon or not, support and pray for your brothers and sisters in this family that is SSBC.