Do you ever need a little nudge to move toward something you have considered? I think we all do, especially if it means venturing beyond our comfort zone. An idea of going somewhere or trying something new comes into our minds and we give considerable time in thinking about it, but we are unable to move in that direction until a friend, family member, or neighbor offers a word of invitation or affirmation. We might even say that the word we hear from them is “heaven sent.”
I offer this as a reminder that all around you there are people who need a nudge to connect with a family of faith. It only takes a word of invitation for someone to join you in Bible study, worship and fellowship with your church family. Each of us has the opportunity to be a conduit of God’s love and concern for others by sharing what we experience every day. Take a moment and think about the people you value in your family, neighborhood and workplace who might need a word of encouragement or even a nudge to help them experience the life God desires for them. Their life and your life will be enriched in the process.v
If you read the April issue of the Southside Columns, or observe the posters in numerous locations around the building, our focus for study and involvement during Eastertide, social issues and social justice, is very apparent. Looking to scripture and the life of Jesus to inform, motivate and guide us in our response to our neighbors and the world in which we live by addressing systems of injustice and oppression is at the forefront of Jesus’ call to follow him.
The Sunday School lessons for this month fit well and support the efforts of understanding our responsibility in addressing cultural norms that perpetuate these problems. The unit of study looks at the life of an easy-to-like leader in the early Church named Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement. Barnabas was one who worked to spread the gospel in both his preaching/teaching and in his kindness and compassion towards others. Barnabas gave his resources to meet the needs of others, he interceded and advocated for the acceptance of others, such as Paul and John Mark, when their intent or devotion was called into question, and he was a partner in ministry with the Apostle Paul when God led them to realize that the gospel was for everyone including Gentiles.
I hope you’ll participate in these opportunities to study scripture and pray that God would open our eyes to areas of involvement to which we are called.
The rain Sunday did not dampen the spirits of those attending Bible Study, Worship and “Dinner on the Grounds.” We experienced a wonderful time of fellowship and fun around the table after hearing Dr. Roxburgh deliver a challenging homily during the worship hour on Jesus’ words concerning family and the Christian community. Thank you to all who gave time and energy to make this an outstanding event. It was a very good day at Southside Baptist Church.
This Wednesday, the Christian biography series continues as Dr. Roxburgh presents some of the events in the lives of John and Charles Wesley, giving us a glimpse into the faith development and spiritual journey of these two great Christian leaders. Hopefully, this series along with the “Calls to Action” emailed to you daily has complemented well your journey through this Lenten season.
Reflecting on events in our communities, nation and around the world while considering the experiences of teaching, worship and fellowship last Sunday, the words of the hymn, “We Are Called to Be God’s People” written by Thomas A. Jackson, continue to come to my mind and linger there.
We are are called to be God’s people, showing by our lives his grace,
one in heart and one in spirit, sign of hope for all the race.
Let us show how he has changed us and remade us as His own;
let us share our life together as we will around his throne.
Reflect on these words this week, they have an amazing affect on your attitude, focus and commitment when taken to heart.
Our minds turn to several special dates and observances during the month of February. It is the month during which we honor and celebrate Black History, observe Presidents Day, celebrate Valentine’s Day, and most years celebrate Fat Tuesday, observe Ash Wednesday and begin a Lenten Journey.
This Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m., we will enjoy a Mardi Gras-themed Jazz Vespers in Drennen Hall. Jazz Vespers is always an enjoyable event with good music, food and fellowship. Make plans to be present and bring a friend for this special event this Sunday evening.
This week is a period of “in-between” time. Advent 2017 is behind and we anticipate the New Year 2018. All sorts of thoughts flood my mind as I think of the new year and reflect on 2017 as it draws to a close. Thoughts come to mind of the many good things experienced, the accomplishments achieved, and in all candor, the missed opportunities and even the failures.
Yes, something within us prompts a mental review of the previous twelve months to evaluate what we have done with the time, talents and resources with which God continues to richly bless us. Each year brings new challenges, and 2017 was no exception. Much was achieved, yet there is much more to be done still.
God has entrusted each of us followers of Christ to use our gifts faithfully and wisely. Please give consideration to your commitment of support (whether that be contributing of your hours or expertise or finances) to glorify God and His church in 2018. As such, we all must acknowledge that the wise use of financial means is only a part of living faithfully and responsibly.
I am sending this hoping you will take the opportunity to renew your commitment to faithfully use your time, talents and resources in the new year. Additionally, since this is the last week of the calendar year 2017, you may want to review your financial support of Southside Baptist Church, and make an additional gift for this tax year. This is extremely important this year since the tax reform bill recently signed into law may significantly impact the charitable giving received by Southside Baptist Church in the years to come. Your gift, whether great or small, is needed for Southside Baptist Church to continue on and to increase our efforts to be the “Presence of Christ” we are called to be.
It is my prayer that you will most certainly feel the joy and the fullness of our Lord, Jesus Christ, as the closing of the 2017 year approaches and that you will know the hope and the grace of our Lord in the dawning of the new 2018.
The experiences of worship this Advent season continue to be wonderful! The Advent and Christmas decorations carefully arranged add to the beauty of the sanctuary and enhance the already worshipful atmosphere. Excitement and anticipation of this season lift our spirits as we hear the timeless promises of God found in scripture, beautiful music, homilies and prayers. Corporate worship is always important, but it is especially so in times when we open ourselves more to God’s activity in our lives and in the world around us. Someone told me recently that the circumstances in her life this Christmas prompted her to focus on individuals close at hand that needed to experience the love of God and the presence of Jesus in their lives. This led her to look for ways to be an instrument of God’s love to people within her sphere of influence rather than looking at what was lacking in her own life this Christmas. This adjustment in perspective produced unexpected joy, and for this individual, a reclamation of the true meaning of Christmas. We all know the season of Advent and Christmas is really about much more than all the superficial activities we engage in, many of which leave us feeling empty and even a bit depressed. This season embodies the hope, peace, joy and love that we have because God became flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus. Jesus, God in flesh, who sacrificed himself that we may receive and experience His unfailing love today and for eternity. Celebrate this season and experience the greatest joy through loving acts toward others as the Spirit of Christ guides you.
Missions education and missions giving are major emphases during Advent and Christmas. We give to various missions organizations in response to the love, mercy and grace of God that we experience, hoping that through the efforts of these organizations others will come to know the grace of God experienced in and through the person of Jesus the Christ. Southside Baptist Church is receiving the annual offering for Global Missions this month which will be used to sustain Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel around the world. These individuals are working in many different capacities; however, the primary focus is building “beloved community.” These individuals share God’s love as they work to supply very basic needs along with teaching many life skills necessary for displaced refugees to assimilate into another culture. Please prayerfully consider how you will support these efforts.
Another mission effort supported, in part, by Southside Baptist Church is the Good News Children’s Education Mission in Kolkata, India. Tonight at 6:00 p.m., Subir and Eunok Roy, will share with us some updates and tell us a little about the vision they have for further ministry efforts. Make plans to be present to hear their presentation and to fellowship around the table together.