Church Family Newsletter | April 29, 2022
We tried to clear the path. That didn't work.
We swept the cobwebs, debris, and leaves away. Nope - nothing!
We adjusted the sensor. Ugh - still ... that wasn't the right solution.
After watching a couple of YouTube videos, we realized what the problem was. One of the wires was loose. The cap had fallen off. We found the cap, twisted the wires together, and tightened the wires into the cap. And ... ta-dah! ... the garage was working once again!
What spiritual lessons can you glean from this experience? There are several that came to mind. One of the scriptures that came to me was:
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:10-12, NIV)
Maybe other scriptures came to your mind. I would be happy to hear what those are. Please share them with me and I will post those in next week's newsletter.
One of the most revolutionary pieces of scripture available to us is Paul’s letter to the Church in Galatia. When I say revolutionary, I mean in the sense of who said it and what was said.
First, a piece of background.
The astounding fact of the resurrection and its implications for the Jewish religion posed a fascinating conundrum for the earliest Jesus followers. It confirmed that not only was Jesus the promised Messiah, he was God himself in human form. Following that first Easter Sunday, there was overwhelming evidence that Jesus was alive, active, and powerful and was who he said he was. This was no sleight of hand or mass delusion. Too many people in diverse situations interacted with the risen Savior for this to be some made-up story to cover up the stealing and hiding of his body. He gave his most ardent followers a mission:
‘ Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” ‘
Mark 16:14-15 NIV
If you read on in that passage, you will note that right after giving this mission statement Jesus ascended to his Father. And the disciples enthusiastically went and did as they were told, preaching everywhere.
So far, so good! But now arose a difficulty. Jesus left no instructions for organizing his church! What to do?
As is typical of human nature, those earliest followers fell back to what they were familiar with. They appointed a committee! The committee decided that those who had followed Jesus most closely should be in charge of marketing! Jesus had originally chosen twelve men to travel with him in his three years of ministry. These were the folks who most vividly remembered all that Jesus said and did and were best qualified to act as witnesses. Judas was a bust, though, having betrayed the Lord and then committed suicide, so they had an elaborate scheme to pick a worthy replacement. It was all well thought out and logical and I encourage you to read their criteria in Acts 1:21,22. Also, they were all Jewish (as was Jesus), so all the teaching should be based on the Jewish faith. And the essence of the Jewish faith was the Law.
Enter the revolutionary — Pharisaic Rabbi, Saul of Tarsus.
After his astounding conversion and name change on the road to Damascus, Paul was claiming to be an Apostle, but obviously, he did not fulfill the qualifications laid down by the committee. Paul answers that difficulty in the very first verse of Galatians:
“Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead…” Galatians 1:1 NIV
Obviously, Paul thinks that the committee hasn’t taken into account the bigger picture of who gets to be appointed as an Apostle!
The other problem with the strategizing of the committee was that they were putting the Gospel in the box of Judaism with all its rites, rituals, and restrictions. It was revealed by God to Paul personally that the “box” of Judaism, its Law, and His dealings with the Jewish people were just an illustration of the concept which was to blow the lid off religion forever.
That concept was “grace” and it was Paul’s job to spread that message far beyond the boundaries of the Jews. He points out to the churches in Galatia, that the committee in Jerusalem had agreed to stick to what they knew best — recounting the stories about Jesus before his resurrection and identifying Him as the promised Messiah, but he had their backing in proclaiming the larger gospel of grace to the rest of the world:
“As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, [non Jews] just as Peter had been to the circumcised. [Jews] For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Cephas [Peter] and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.” Galatians 2:6-10 NIV [Jim’s notes]
So, there you have the revolution that totally blindsided the first apostles.
God wanted the Gospel to be so much bigger than just the experience of those who had physically walked with Jesus for three years, as valuable as that was. He wanted the world to know that you couldn’t be in relationship with Him by just keeping the rules — that was doomed to failure — but you could by claiming that Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice qualified you to be a child of God and inherit His goodness and Glory. That’s what grace was all about — astoundingly, it was a gift, even though it was undeserved!
What’s more, He was ready to use the most unlikely person possible — a pharisaic rabbi and zealous persecutor of Jesus-followers — and completely change his name and his outlook, and have him travel most of the known world to explain about grace!
I encourage you to read that letter to the Galatian churches (it’s not very long!) with this in mind and give God honor, praise, and glory for expanding the vision of the “committee” beyond what they could possibly imagine. Let’s make sure we don’t fall into the trap of trying to contain the vision of the Church to the box of our own understanding.
Oh — and watch out for committees!
Blessings on you and yours,
This will take you to Jim Black's collection of articles since starting the newsletter.
This Week's Schedule
- 9:00 AM - Jr. Praise Team Rehearsal - Chapel
- 10:00 AM - Corps Cadets - Library
- 10:00 AM - Sunday School - Classroom 3
- 10:15 AM - Prayer Time - Prayer Room
- 11:00 AM - Worship Service - Chapel
- 12:15 PM - Refreshments & Fellowship - Fireside Room
- 12:30 PM - Youth Music Rehearsals - Chapel
- 12:30 PM - Adult Music Basic/Theory 101 - Classroom 2
- 6:00 PM - Men's Bible Study - Fireside Room
- (No Women's Bible Study since Major Ann will be out of town.)
- 7:00 PM - Songster Practice - Chapel
- 8:00 PM - Musicians' Devotions & Prayer - Chapel
- 8:15 PM - Senior Band Practice - Chapel
- 10:00 AM - CAMEO: "Mom"-sense - Zoom ONLY
- 6:30 PM - YouthForce: Cooking Your Own Dinner & Dessert - Fireside Room
TOMORROW - Come check it out!
World Services Information Table
Save the Dates
Bethel One Day Retreat
As we witness the increasing instability of our culture, now is not the time for us as Christians to wring our hands and stick our heads in the sand. Nothing is happening that God has not already told us would happen. As women of faith, we are to be strong and of good courage. The Bible tells us repeatedly to not be afraid. We are in this place and this time in history because God has a particular purpose for each one of us. So, let's get together and try to understand what is going on in the world and focus on where we go from here!
- Coffee and muffins will be served in the morning.
- Lunch will be at no cost, however, donations are gratefully accepted.
- There will be a short prayer walk during the lunch break for those who are able.
- We will have a raffle drawing at the end of the day.
- We will have music and some entertainment.
- This is a FREE event!
Date: Saturday, May 21
Time: 9:00 AM - 2:30 PM
Bethel Baptist Church
3578 Clayton Road
Concord, CA 94519
Contact Patty Lim at (925) 323-4296 or email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
The deadline is May 14th.
She has changed the decorations depending on the month's holiday, theme, or season. If you would like to supply and decorate the tree in the upcoming months or seasons, please let her know. She is more than happy to make this a corps family tree.
It could be a beach theme (Summer), patriotic (Memorial Day), or primary colors and letters (Back to School in the Fall). Now you get the idea?
Summer Camp & VBS
- Sports Camp - June 20-25 - Cost $75
- Music & Worship Arts Camp - July 2-9 - Cost $100
We are only asking for less than 1/3 of the total cost of camp. These camps are for kids ages 7-16. Informational flyers are included below. If you have any more questions or you would like to reserve a space for your child(ren), please let Majors Gwyn or AnnMarguerite Jones know.
NOTE: Vacation Bible School is scheduled for July 18-22 and 24. More information will be coming out soon!
International Prayer Focus
INDIA CENTRAL TERRITORY
- Evangeline Booth Hospital opening: This is a core project of the territory and the hospital building is completed and ready for opening.
- Officer Health (Active and Retired): Most of our officers both active and retired are having various health issues. This year from January five active officers were Promoted To Glory and Retired. This is a big concern to the territory.
- Cadets Commissioning "Reconciliation Session" - May 7-8, 2022 is the Commissioning Program.
- Territorial Review by International Headquarters
- Towards Self Support Territory: The territory is striving hard to move towards Self Support by the year 2025.
Click here to share your requests. Requests will be prayed for in our Prayer Room and distributed through our Prayer Chain. Requests can be made anonymously.
You can make a tithe payment, give an offering, or donate towards the World Services fund.
International Day of Children & Youth
Suzane supporting Pamela
Pamela talks about Solomon's wisdom
Master Gardeners Donations
Tomato plants given away by Phil and Stella