Church Family Newsletter | May 27, 2022
Raise the Rope!
“Come listen to my tale,
Of Jonah and the whale
Away down in the middle of the ocean.
Now how did he get there,
Whatever did he wear?
Away down in the middle of the ocean.
A preacher he should be
At Nineveh, you see.
He disobeyed — a very foolish notion!
But God forgave his sin,
Salvation entered in,
Away down in the middle of the ocean!”
(Sunday school Chorus, circa. 1950)
I am, and always have been, intensely curious and a tinkerer. Some of my earliest memories are of dismantling things to see how they work. And, of course, the reverse process of re-assembling them. Sometimes I was successful, sometimes not. I know for sure that my mother took no pleasure in finding errant screws, nuts, and bolts that ended up in the carpet!
Still, I think it is very important to try and understand how things work, if possible. I bring that same curiosity to my spiritual life and bible study. I like to ask questions about who? And why? And how? Sometimes I get answers, and some answers have yet to be discovered. For example, how do we know what the conversation was between Jesus and Satan in the wilderness? None of the gospel writers were there. I think there’s an obvious answer, but if you want to email me with your theory, I’d love to hear it!
So, what’s the deal with the Jonah and the whale song? Well, if you read the story of Jonah you will know that a “whale” is never actually mentioned — it’s a “big fish!” But since folks have been talking about Jonah and a “whale” for centuries, the thought of a whale brought to mind one of my “how does that work?” questions.
It’s most likely that you have seen a video of a very famous “whale” (actually an orca, which definitely looks big and fishy) named “Shamu” (pronounced SHA-moo) which performed for many years at SeaWorld in San Diego, California. Truth be told, there were actually three of these aquatic behemoths weighing about 1 ton each, but only their handlers could tell them apart. As part of the show, the orca would pick up speed and shoot its body thirty feet in the air to nudge a beach ball suspended above it.
I wanted to know how that was done. Did they go out into the Pacific Ocean and call, “here, Shamu, Shamu!” Until an obliging orca leaped thirty feet in the air and obliged by letting itself be captured? Just writing that sentence is so absurd that I had to know there was another way.
Here’s how it is done according to the trainers/handlers at SeaWorld.
You obtain a baby orca and you place it in a pool that has a rope on the bottom. You condition the animal to recognize that when it swims across the rope, there will be a reward (usually, but not always, food) on the other side.
Day after day, this ritual is repeated. Swim across the rope, and obtain a reward. Very slowly, an inch or so a week, the rope is raised. At some point, the orca has to get out of its normal, comfortable, environment and break the surface to cross the rope. Same deal: across the rope, there is a reward, under the rope is disappointment.
After a while, the rope is twenty-five feet in the air and an orca who had no idea that it was capable of such an astounding feat is performing the impossible with ease.
Here are some words from Paul’s letter to the Roman church:
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5 NIV [Emphasis mine]
Every Jesus follower is capable of incredible things, through the Holy Spirit — but like baby Shamu, we don’t immediately attain super performance. Like the raising of the rope for the orca, the Holy Spirit raises the goals for us. He does so through the stages of suffering, perseverance, character building, and hope, allowing us to achieve results which at a previous stage of development would have seemed unattainable. We are made, fearfully and wonderfully, in the very image of God. We are vessels of incredible potential which can only be realized by building on success and learning from failures. The rewards are tangible and immediate, but we soon get to realize that the Holy Spirit is saying to us, “that was well done, now try this!”
The end result should be that we have the attitude that Paul had when he wrote to the church in Philippi:
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13 KJV
Let’s not be satisfied with less than our full potential! Let the Holy Spirit raise the rope! It may seem scary, but soon you, like Shamu, will be soaring to new heights and hearing the applause of the vast cloud of witnesses by which we are surrounded! Get your superpower on!
Raise the rope!
Blessings on you and yours,
When feeling overwhelmed, these scriptures bring me peace that I am not alone - and God is for me.
I pray that you are relying on the Lord to give you strength in these days. Be grateful for each day - even when they are hard. Love those around you. And pray for one another.
19 "When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy." Psalm 94:19
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34
"Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you." Psalm 9:10
Matt Shares His Story
See his story below.
Texas Shooting Response
After the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday morning, The Salvation Army responded to a request for assistance and deployed a mobile kitchen and disaster response team from San Antonio, about eighty-five miles away, to serve first responders and the community.
Throughout the evening and overnight, first responders and law enforcement received sandwiches, snacks, coffee, and Gatorade from The Salvation Army mobile kitchen positioned at the Incident Command Post established at the school. The team will be serving three meals on Wednesday.
“This tragedy has impacted so many people in the area. Even before we arrived in Uvalde, I had the opportunity to pray with someone affected by the shooting,” said Major Carolyn Webb, Incident Commander for The Salvation Army response. “We were buying supplies at a grocery store and another shopper offered to help with our heavy load. As soon as they learned that we were with The Salvation Army and headed to Uvalde, they explained that a close friend had lost their child in the shooting. We prayed together right there in the store.”
A Family Resource Center has been set up at the Civic Center on Main Street in Uvalde, specifically for the families affected by the shooting. Three Salvation Army Officers, from San Antonio and San Angelo, will serve as Emotional and Spiritual Care Specialists at the center, and will be available to listen, support, and pray with family members. Canines 4 Christ, a newly fostered partner organization, will provide six teams including therapy dogs and trained ESC specialists as additional support. The mobile kitchen team will continue to serve first responders at the Incident Command Post.
The Salvation Army team is coordinating closely with local and state emergency management as well as other community organizations and businesses. “Everyone has been incredibly supportive in this community. We are all working together to help; providing food, comfort, and a listening ear,” said Webb. “Please keep this community in your thoughts and prayers as they deal with the heartache of this tragedy and travel the long road to healing. The Salvation Army will remain in Uvalde as long as we are needed.”
For the latest disaster response information, go to www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org.
This Week's Schedule
- 9:00 AM - Praise Team Rehearsal & Singing Company Rehearsal - Chapel
- 10:00 AM - Sunday School - Classroom 3
- 10:00 AM - Senior Soldiership Classes
- 10:15 AM - Prayer Time - Prayer Room
- 11:00 AM - Worship Service - Chapel
- 12:15 PM - Celebration Luncheon - Fireside Room
- 1:00 PM - Youth Music Rehearsals - Chapel
- 6:00 PM - Men's Bible Study - Fireside Room
- 6:00 PM - Women's Bible Study - Zoom
- Band and Songsters are on summer hiatus.
- 10:00 AM - CAMEO: Trip to San Francisco
- Encore participants traveling down for Territorial Encore and Commissioning Events.
- Pray for Cadet Cody Trimmer who will be receiving his AA in Ministry.
- Pray for our young people who will be participating in Encore and the Celebration of Youth Meeting.
- Major Willdonna Rich will be leading the Sunday Worship Service.
- Pray for Lt. Cody Trimmer as he will be ordained and given his first ministry appointment.
Pics of the Week
Missed the Women's Retreat? Attached are videos of the 4 main sessions.
Stand Down on the Delta - Antioch
Time: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Location: Contra Costa County Fairgrounds (Antioch)
It has been two years since we've been able to participate in this service to our Veterans. Lt. Perfect Weeden headed up the team of volunteers last time. This year, Mike O'Reilly will be in charge of this event while the Majors will be out-of-town for the Commissioning events and Territorial Encore with the participating families. He will only be able to fulfill this commitment with the help of our congregation and other volunteers. We will have our canteen on site serving snacks and coffee. If you are interested, please let Mike know so that he can create his shifts. Thank you!
As you know, General and Commissioner Peddle will be visiting San Francisco on June 17, 2022. Here is some information for your planning.
South San Francisco Conference Center
255 S. Airport Blvd
South San Francisco, CA 94090
Details facility information can be found at: https://ssfconf.com/. There are no vaccination or COVID testing requirements at this time. There is plenty of parking at the venue, and the parking lots of the adjoining hotels may be used as well.
1:30 PM - Open at Venue for Officers Councils
2:30 PM - Officers Councils Session
4:30 PM - Sound Check for Meeting Participants (Please be early!)
4:45 PM - Plated Dinner Served for Officers only
5:30 PM - Doors Open at Venue for Public Meeting
6:00 PM - Prelude
6:30 PM - Public Meeting
8:30 PM - Event Concludes
Other things to know:
- We will be providing transportation for the men in our Transitional Living Program ONLY. We have decided that it will be too difficult and too costly to provide a bus as we had originally thought. All other participants are making their own way there.
- Tickets are not required for this event.
- All officers are expected to attend the Officers Councils and everyone (soldiers, employees, Advisory Organizations members, community members, etc.) is welcome to attend the public meeting at 6:30 PM.
- Please be reminded that there is no childcare for this event. All children must be under the immediate care and supervision of their parents or another assigned guardian.
- There’s not enough room at the venue for folks to "hang out" and wait for the Public Meeting. The Tanforan Mall is not too far from the venue, and maybe this is a good opportunity for folks to do a little sightseeing in San Francisco while they wait for the Public Meeting.
- There will be translations available in Spanish, Korean, and Chinese. Receivers will be available at the back of the hall at the translation tables.
- We will be livestreaming the Public Meeting. The link for that is https://youtu.be/Fqe64e8aNTc.