Giving Your Gifts

Several of our Sunday School classes complete a four-week study this Sunday on the use of time, talents and resources. The series, using Paul’s letters to Christians in Corinth and in Rome as the text, looks at the motivation and commitment of using all that God has provided for the benefit of God’s Kingdom and others. How do you look at all with which you have been blessed? Do you see your time, talents and resources as solely your own, or do you see them all as really belonging to God? As Believers, we are called to follow Christ and allow the Spirit of Christ to teach and guide us in using all that we have and all that we are to demonstrate and communicate to others the love, mercy and grace of God. All of this we know, but the daily living of our lives can skew our perception of who has really provided all that we have and enjoy. Through these lessons we are challenged to ask the hard questions of our commitment to using our time, talents, and resources. The financial gifts most make on a regular basis are important but there are other ways to give by using our time and talents. Here are some ways that we can join together in helping others and in celebrating God’s blessings this week:

  • Participate TONIGHT at 5:00 p.m. assembling hygiene kits for the needy. The project will take place in Drennen Hall.
  • Attend the Family Promise Fundraiser at St Stephens Episcopal Church on Thursday evening to benefit homeless families.
  • Join your church family by taking part in the Magic City AIDS walk this Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Railroad Park.

In 2 Corinthians 9:7 we read, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Please pray for discernment, understanding and guidance as you decide what you will give.

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Giving Your Gifts

Be Generous

A heightened awareness and understanding of what is truly important has been the dominant focus of thoughts for many in recent days. When faced with the threat of a natural disaster, or in surveying the aftermath of the two massive storms that took the lives of 107 individuals and brought destruction and great loss of property, it is only natural to think about what is most valuable; to put it another way, what brings real meaning to our life.

Crises and critical needs jolt us back from the routine of life that dulls our senses and spirits to the really important aspects of life. The layers covering the innate goodness created by God in our hearts are peeled away in a single moment and we catch a glimpse of what life can be as we respond to the needs of those facing life changing events. The world would be very different if we all demonstrated concern and compassion for others everyday, even in the absence of a natural disaster, and lived a life that reflected the generous heart and character of the God who gave us life and who sustains life.

Generosity is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) made evident in one’s life as the Spirit of Christ guides and teaches us to see the world and all that is in it as Jesus sees it. Generosity is seeing human pain and suffering and taking action to help and bring comfort and healing. Developing a spirit of generosity and using the time, talents and resources that God has blessed us with brings us closer to God and to one another. Thus we develop an even greater understanding of Jesus’ words “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… and to love your neighbor as yourself.”

Please prayerfully consider how the Spirit of Christ is guiding you to use the time, talents and resources that God has entrusted to you for your spiritual journey of growing more into a likeness of Jesus the Christ.

I enjoy our journey together,

Tim Kelley

Ways to help:

  1. Pray.
  2. Give money to the Disaster Relief causes through Southside Baptist Church as you feel led to do so.
  3. Give items for relief efforts that are on lists provided by collection centers. (We have plastic bins for toiletries collections around the church.)
  4. Offer displaced friends or other victims a place to stay as they have to leave their homes.
  5. Volunteer at collection sights or even join teams traveling to help in recovery efforts.
Be Generous

The cross, the rose and the anchor

It is a common occurrence to stand in the pulpit on a Sunday morning and see someone in the congregation gazing at the ceiling. I assume the usual reason for looking upward with such a fixed focus is to pass the time, but, I hope, that on occasion, it is because one’s attention is captured by beauty and meaning of architectural features and symbols.

There are many emblems in the worship space that might go unnoticed unless one carefully looks at all the details. Even those not so obvious are there for a reason though; they remind us of who we are and how those before us gave expression to their faith. One place you will find, some not so obvious symbols is in the corners of each recessed tray where the coffers intersect. In each corner is a shield that is abutted on each side by oak leaf crown molding. The off-white shield and the molding are in stark contrast to the Wedgwood blue ceiling, and are therefore obvious even from the floor forty feet below. Not easily seen, though, are the symbols on the shield: a cross, a rose and an anchor.

The cross represents the unconditional and sacrificial love of Jesus, God incarnate. Jesus, in and through his journey to the cross for all of humanity demonstrated God’s love at work in the world made evident in his death, burial and resurrection. The other two symbols on the shield, the rose and anchor, have been associated with Christianity through the centuries, and are relevant to us today as well. The rose is a universal symbol of love and a reminder of the love of God that is at work in individual lives and in the world. The anchor is a symbol of the hope we have in Christ; hope for today, hope for tomorrow and forever. It reminds us that whatever we face in life, the love of Christ will hold fast and never fail. A truth that is affirmed in the hymn, “The Solid Rock.”
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In very high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

The cross, a rose, and an anchor, all symbols to remind us that God who created all that is has blessed humankind with opportunities to experience the depth of his love, mercy and grace.

So, look up, and be reminded and encouraged because God is present with us as we all journey together.

The cross, the rose and the anchor

The Beautiful & the Devastating

Beautiful, marvelous, uplifting and inspiring are some of the adjectives used by worshippers to describe their experience last Sunday. Many guests and members expressed how moved they were by the service in which all elements directed attention to the love, mercy and grace of the one true and living God. The wonderful music of the organ and choir, the congregational singing, scripture lessons, heart-felt prayers and the sincere words from Rev. Jones and Rabbi Miller left everyone feeling more grateful to God and hopeful about life than when we arrived. Thank you to all who helped make this such a wonderful day at Southside. We were all greatly blessed through worship and through the fellowship of sharing a meal together. It was indeed a great day of remembrance, celebration and hope.

But sadly, while we were celebrating, our brothers and sisters in Texas were suffering devastation. The images of the destruction and flooding of homes and businesses in Houston bring a heaviness to our hearts. Seeing the images and hearing about the severe hardships and safety issues leading to injuries and loss of life prompt us to want to do something to help, but what? There are trained disaster relief responders providing direct services to the victims that need our prayers and support which we can provide by making financial gifts through various organizations. These organizations have plans and procedures in place to be the conduit for financial aid to this area. If you would like to make a financial gift to aid the victims of this natural disaster, you can do so through Southside Baptist Church by noting on your check “Disaster Relief-Harvey” or you can give online here.

The Beautiful & the Devastating

Special Worship Service + Luncheon!

Sunday was a wonderful day at Southside Baptist Church! The baptism of Shawny Tucker gave opportunity for us to celebrate with the newest member of the Southside Baptist family of faith. It also allowed us time to recall and reflect upon our own decisions to follow Christ and enter the baptismal waters. The music from the prelude through the postlude, the heartfelt words both spoken and sung and the visible steps taken in discipleship lifted our spirits and were reminders of the wonder of God’s love, mercy and grace.

This Sunday, August 27, another wonderful opportunity of worship is planned as former Pastor, Rev. Steve Jones, and Rabbi Jonathan Miller, recently retired from Temple Emanu-El after 27 years of leadership, speak during worship. Rev. Jones and Rabbi Miller, along with their congregations, forged a very special relationship during their tenures of service and leadership. Southside Baptist opening its doors to Temple Emanu-El while their building was under renovation was a gesture that also opened doors to interfaith dialogue and spiritual growth for both congregations. Rev. Jones and Rabbi Miller will share some personal thoughts and experiences of this wonderful interfaith relationship that blossomed and continues to be cherished by Southside Baptist Church and Temple Emanu-El.

Following worship, a covered-dish luncheon will be held in the Fellowship Hall to which everyone is invited. The church is providing the meat, bread and beverages, so members are asked to provide a salad, vegetable or dessert.

Make plans to be present and celebrate this time of fellowship around the table with friends old and new.

Special Worship Service + Luncheon!

Reflections on the Meaning of Charlottesville

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.

Reflections on the Meaning of Charlottesville

Leaving Our Boats

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.

Leaving Our Boats