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From Chris’s Computer

Recently, I shared a vision with our youth group: to become the friendliest youth group in Rutherford County. I have shared this vision with them not because they lack friendliness, but because of the impact friendliness can have on the Lord’s Kingdom.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record the parable of the sower, a parable Jesus tells to help us understand how people will respond to God’s Word differently. This parable also points to the power God’s Word has to transform those who hear it. In Luke 8:11, Jesus begins to explain this parable, where He clearly states that the seed represents the Word of God. This is an important point that we must focus on, as we show concern for the lost.

 It is good for us to think about “planting seeds,” as we pursue those who are lost in our lives, but we must ensure we are spreading the seed Jesus is talking about, the word of God. This means we aren’t spreading seeds when we are serving others, letting our light shine, or by being friendly. A seed is planted when God’s Word is heard. Now, certainly letting our light shine, serving others, and being friendly is important. For, it is our light, our service, and our friendliness that prepares the seed to be planted.

This is why I have this vision of our youth being the friendliest youth group in Rutherford County.  It’s as Theodore Roosevelt said, “no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Our friendliness, with some intention, can lead to spreading seeds as Jesus intended. We are friendly people, but I hope we can be friendly with the intention of planting a seed, by sharing God’s Word. 

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Service Opportunity

We will be serving lunch in Waverly to around 100 people on Tuesday, February 1. Kristy Bolin will have the sign-up sheets on Sunday, January 30. Kristy will be at the church building accepting food donations on Monday, January 31, from 3 to 4 p.m.

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From Paul’s Pen

            Except for the rise in COVID cases, the New Year seems to be off to a good start. Now it is up to us to make it a joyful one! Oh, I know we’re all affected by inflation, higher energy costs, higher taxes, and a host of other irritants. We all have things in our lives which cause anxiety and worry. But a Christian’s joy is not determined by earthly circumstances.

            I like the way someone described joy: “It is closely related to gladness and happiness, although joy is more a state of being than an emotion; a result of choice.”[1] Joy is based upon our relationship with God and His Son and the blessings we enjoy as His children and citizens of His kingdom. Why shouldn’t we be joyful with the assurance of an eternal home in heaven?

            Joy is included in the fruit of the Spirit as recorded in Galatians 5:22 and is something we must cultivate. It doesn’t come naturally just as surely as loving one’s enemies is hard work. The apostle Paul taught us much about being joyful in the harshest of times. From a Roman prison, Paul could write, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4; NKJV) Even our Lord’s brother offered this exhortation: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3)

            Let us each determine to be joyful no matter what life brings and, in the process, spread joy to those around us. The more we learn to be joyful, the more we’ll be able to praise our Lord and Savior!

            Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,

            God of glory, Lord of love;

            Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee,

            Opening to the sun above.

            Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;

            Drive the dark of doubt away;

            Giver of immortal gladness,

            Fill us with the light of day!


[1] Heyink, B. (2016). Joy. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, L. Wentz, E. Ritzema, & W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.

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Shepherds’ Notes

                 One of the lessons that is quickly learned in military basic training is respect.   Respect and honor were taught in all aspects of military life from how you treated your superiors to how you treated civilians.  You were also taught to respect the flag, the country, and the uniform.   

                 There are several ways in which soldiers show respect.  You addressed officers as “Sir” or “Ma’am” as you also did with civilians.  You walked to the left and slightly behind those that held a higher rank.  These, and many more things, were courtesies, or traditions, that were signs of respect.

When in uniform, one always removed their headgear (hats) while indoors.  This was a lesson quickly learned when you forgot to remove your hat indoors and your buddy smacks you on top of the head and yells “HEADGEAR!”.

     For men, removing his hat has been a sign of respect for many centuries.  Records indicate that Knights removed their helmet in the presence of a King and in the presence of a lady.  Indeed, the practice continues today when gentlemen remove their hats during the playing of the National Anthem or the reciting of the pledge of allegiance.  We may have lost some of our etiquette when it comes to removing our hats, but certainly the practice still exists when partaking of a meal, while in a court of law, or while in a church building (regardless of the reason).

  Romans 13:7 says “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” (ESV)  We should all consider how respectful we are when entering the Walter Hill church building.  We should consider what we are wearing and how we are acting.  Our God is certainly due all respect, honor, glory and awe.  Fellow Christians are also due our respect and honor. 

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From Paul’s Pen

                 One of the saddest scriptures in the Bible is the first sentence of Hosea 4:6 – “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”  This is something we can prevent if we’re willing to put forth the time and effort.  Even though we are two days into the New Year, it is not too late to become a daily Bible reader.  The link to the site of our reading is www.blueletterbible.org/dailyreading/index.cfm and you can find more details on page three of this newsletter.

                 It is certainly not too late to resolve to attend Bible classes on Sunday and Wednesday evenings.  Every one of us has more to learn from God’s word and these are perfect opportunities.  The inspired apostle Peter wrote these words in his last epistle: “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18a; NKJV).  This is an imperative or a command – not an option.

I know some of you are good students of God’s word and are always trying to dig deeper.  Allow me to share a few sites I use regularly in my studies.

Some of the best commentaries available today can be found at www.resourcepublications.net You may sign up for courses on these commentaries for a modest fee.  The link to this school is www.throughthescriptures.com   By selecting personal choice, you can choose which book you want to study.  You will receive an electronic and a hardback copy of the commentary and given 50 days to complete the course.  These have proved very helpful to me and several others in the congregation.

Sometimes we all have questions about certain passages or Biblical doctrines.  Or we may be seeking printed or electronic media for our study. The following may be helpful to you:

www.apologeticspress.org

www.christiancourier.com

www.focuspress.org

www.theoutlet.us

www.holylandphotos.org

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From Paul’s Pen

            As we begin a New Year, I want to encourage you to become a daily Bible reader. The link to the site of our reading is www.blueletterbible.org/dailyreading/index.cfm The default Bible is the KJV, but you can select the NKJV or another translation at the top of the site under “ADV. OPTIONS”. The reading plan we are following is the One Year Canonical Plan and you have the option of having the text read to you. You can also create an account to allow your daily Bible reading to synchronize across multiple devices.

            New years bring new opportunities and possibilities – 2022 is no exception. While we don’t know where COVID and its variants will take us, change is awaiting our congregation. With a new minister coming on board, he will bring new energy and ideas. It will be our responsibility to embrace and encourage him and his family – as I know Walter Hill will do! The future remains bright if each of us will do his or her part as the body of Christ.

            I was trying to find a text for my article this week to challenge us in the New Year. I finally chose one but it’s too long to include; however, please take time to read Romans 12:1-21. If we followed the three main points of this text, the Lord would richly bless the Walter Hill church in the days ahead. May we be living sacrifices to God (verses 1-2); may we serve God with the spiritual gifts and talents He has bestowed on each of us (verses 3-8); and may we behave like Christians (verses 9-21).

            Happy New Year!!!

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Shepherds’ Notes

Most of us recognize Hebrews Chapter 11 as the “Faith” chapter in the Bible.  We are reminded of the faith of great men such as Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and others.  We read in the Old Testament how God used these men, and why we are reminded of their faith. 

Also, we read of many women of faith as well.  Hebrews 11 mentions Sarah.  Other women that come to mind are Ruth, Rebekah, Esther, Elizabeth, Mary, Martha and her sister Mary.  There are many others that we could name. 

As I thought about these people of faith, I began to think back to when I was a child growing up in a small congregation. There were many people that I would consider people of great faith.  In our auditorium there were two rows of seats in the front of the building that were turned in a different direction than all the rest.  There were about four men that always sat in these seats that I would consider great men of faith.  Not that they would have wanted any special honor, but these men were the leaders in the church.  Along with their wives, they were well respected in the community and could be counted on to be at every worship service.  They would travel together to gospel meetings in the area, not just one night of the meeting but every night.  These were people that I looked up to, learned from and respected.  I know all of us have fond memories of God-fearing people that have influenced our lives along the way.  May we always treasure them and the influence that they had and are having in our lives.  Consider Hebrews 12:1-2.

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From Paul’s Pen

            Nineteen shopping days ‘til Christmas! It is a wonderful time of the year as we think about giving to others. Hopefully, we haven’t forgotten the less fortunate or those too overcome with grief to celebrate. This holiday season is a great time to focus on others instead of ourselves.

            While so many around the world celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, let’s view this with optimism. We don’t know when Christ was born and almost certainly it was not December 25th; however, both Matthew and Luke provide beautiful details about His miraculous birth. We also have some Old Testament prophecies regarding the same. And oh, what beautiful hymns have been written about the divine nativity. Sadly, we often wait until December to sing them!

            As we approach a New Year, we often reflect on changes to make (resolutions?) to feel better about ourselves. Perhaps it’s time for a different approach. Let’s seriously ponder changes we need to make for God to be pleased with us! Take a moment to read 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 as we begin to consider changes in our lives for 2022. While there are probably moral and ethical adjustments we all need to make, maybe we also need to adjust our worship. Am I really giving as I’ve been prospered? Am I singing as the Lord commands? Am I reading my Bible every day? Do I allow trivial pursuits to keep me from the worship assembly?             “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2; NKJV).

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From Paul’s Pen

Today is the deadline for your 2022 theme suggestions. As of Friday, we had four great suggestions but we’d love to have more. Please give your written ideas for a theme to Janice or me. Be sure to include your name and an associated scripture.

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is this week! Don’t forget our annual devotional will be Tuesday night at 7:00 in lieu of our usual Wednesday night services. Christians have so much to be thankful for and Thursday will be a great opportunity to reflect on our blessings – not just a turkey feast.

The Bible is full of references about giving thanks. May I suggest these verses from Psalm 95 as we assemble for worship this morning:

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!

Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;

Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

For the Lord is the great God,

And the great King above all gods.

In His hand are the deep places of the earth;

The heights of the hills are His also.

The sea is His, for He made it;

And His hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;

Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

For He is our God,

And we are the people of His pasture,

And the sheep of His hand.

            When we pause to give thanks, it is helpful to remember that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17; NKJV).

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Shepherds’ Notes

When Paul announced his plan to retire in April of next year, the elders announced that a search committee would be assembled to perform the task of reviewing candidates and making recommendations to the elders. Josh Cooper, Dan Holt, Matt Lanius, Bryan Lewis, Trampas McCracken, Scott Miller, Kip Nickell, and Jordan Pack were asked to serve, and they are diligently working to serve the Walter Hill congregation in finding our next minister.

Over the next 2-3 months, the elders will be inviting candidates recommended by the search committee to preach to the congregation and teach a combined adult Bible class on Sunday evening. I would also anticipate there being an opportunity for the congregation to meet those candidates invited to visit.

Kindly remember the search committee in your prayers. The elders also request your prayers that God’s will be done as we seek out the man who will serve Walter Hill as its next pulpit minister.

Changing thoughts, we have been asked about where certain families have gone in the last 18 months. With the pandemic, we all worshiped at home for a couple of months in the beginning, and then went to two services for many months where folks only saw half the congregation, depending on whether you attended the first or second service.

When we all came back together in May, not everyone came back. Some have not returned yet due to health concerns about the virus. Some families have moved out of the Murfreesboro area and are worshiping close to their new home. Others have identified with different congregations in the Murfreesboro area to worship with family members, e.g., children, grandchildren, aging parents.

The online directory is a resource to use to keep up with current members, but it is woefully out of date. Be looking in the coming weeks for announcements regarding the taking of new photos to update the directory.