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From Paul’s Pen

            Do you ever imagine what it would have been like to be one of the twelve accompanying Jesus for three years? He was their Teacher – the One they followed and listened to. They lived with Him and traveled with Him. They surely got very close to Him – the Son of God – and a familiarity must have developed as among friends. But the old phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” would have never been appropriate for this relationship because there was nothing to dislike about Jesus.

            Is it possible for us to become too familiar with Jesus? No, I’m not talking about growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) and drawing closer intellectually and spiritually. I’m talking about reducing the Christ to such a human level that we treat Him like some palsy-walsy friend. I think the Lord’s disciples received many warnings to prevent this and maybe we need to remember those reminders in Scripture.

            One of those is found in Mark 4:35-41 when the disciples woke Jesus during a storm because they thought they were about to perish. After Jesus rebuked the wind and calmed the sea, they feared exceedingly – they literally “feared with great fear”. When they realized Jesus was no ordinary man, they were very afraid. Perhaps we need to remember the same from time to time and approach our worship of Him with more reverence.

            His holiness and that of our heavenly Father demands some separation. And while we are invited to come boldly before the throne of grace, we need to remember where this throne is – who sits on it – and our own sinful humanity.

            On bended knee I come,

            With a humble heart I come,

            Bowing down before Your holy throne.  

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Shepherds’ Notes

What are we afraid of?  This may seem like a silly question, but I believe all of us could admit there is something that scares us or possibly several things that we are afraid of.  I remember a time that we never locked the doors on our homes or vehicles.  I am not sure the doors to our house even had locks on them.  If they did, I am sure we had no keys to them.  Maybe the screen doors had a latch that would fit into an eye hook to keep it secured but that is about all.  It just seemed that we were not afraid.  Now we have multiple locks on our doors and even alarm systems with cameras in our homes so we can see what is going on even when we aren’t home. 

In looking at what the bible says about fear, it is estimated the words “fear not” are found around 300 times. 

While we are told so many times not to fear, we are also warned to fear Satan.  1 Peter 5:8 tells us “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”   While it is easy to be fearful of many things, to be eternally separated from God should be our greatest fear. 

Consider the words found in Isiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

I challenge all of us to spend some time this week studying what the scriptures say about fear. 

 

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From Paul’s Pen

            What a wonderful spiritual feast we enjoyed last weekend at the feet of Bryan McAlister! If you missed any of these lessons, please go to www.youtube.com and search for “Walter Hill church of Christ”. There you will find the sermons for our gospel meeting. Bryan presented lessons we all need to hear – positive, encouraging messages. You will be blessed by them and him!

            As we seek to return to some level of congregational normalcy, we need your help. Really, we need your presence for our Bible classes on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. The attendance has slowly been improving, but like Uncle Sam, we need you! I know the COVID threat is still out there and, if you feel uncomfortable in crowds, please wear your mask.

            We all need encouragement from time to time because our lives have so many ups and downs. But one of the best forms of self-encouragement comes when we help others. We have so many who are struggling, and we may the one who can make their load a little lighter. Consider the words of Romans 15:1 from the NASB: “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.” Or these from Hebrews 12:12 in the NKJV: “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.”

            These words from an old hymn (#497 in our books) surely bring these scriptures home:

            Have you lifted a stone from your brother’s way,

            As he struggled along life’s road?

            Have you lovingly touched some frail, toilworn hand,

            Shared with someone his heavy load?

            Have you spoken a word full of hope and cheer?

            Have you walked with a slower pace,

            Till the weary of heart who were stumbling on, 

           Took new courage to run the race?

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From Paul’s Pen

            There are many lessons we can learn from the life and words of David – both positive and negative. But one of my favorite lessons from the man after the Lord’s own heart is found in 2 Samuel 24:18-25 after King David disobeyed the Lord by taking a census of Israel and Judah. As a result of his sin, David had to choose the punishment to be inflicted on the people: seven years of famine; three months of fleeing from his enemies; or a plague for three days. The guilty king chose the plague and 70,000 men died from Dan to Beersheba. The Lord was about to destroy Jerusalem but restrained the hand of His angel who was destroying the people. Notice David’s reaction in verse 17: Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.”

            David was then told to build an altar where he had seen the angel – on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. While Araunah tried to give David everything he needed for the altar and sacrifice, the king refused. Notice verse 24: Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

            It cost David a little bit of pride to admit his sin plus 50 shekels of silver to obey the Lord. What is it costing us to serve our Lord and Master?

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Will’s Words

Last Sunday was an emotional day for me, my family, and our congregation as it was announced that my work with the Walter Hill church would end at the close of August.  It has been such a blessing for us to be members of this great congregation.  Thank you for loving us and encouraging us.  We pray that God continues to bless the Walter Hill family that has been so good to us.

I love preaching and have loved it since I started as a pre-teen.  I left preaching weekly when we came to Walter Hill; and while I have grown in other aspects of ministry in my time here, I have grown to miss preaching more and more.  In a meeting with our elders in 2019, they expressed I would not fill the pulpit here in the future, and after a meeting in November 2020  I had to begin a diligent search for a preaching role.  To date, I’ve interviewed with eight congregations in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama and have not yet secured a new position.  I ask that you pray alongside us that God will soon place us with a new work where we can work in the Kingdom for His glory.

As announced last week, at the end of August, we will be moving outside Muscle Shoals, AL, where we will live until we find a new work.  I cannot express how deeply we have loved this church family and will miss you all.  Thank you for taking us in as family and allowing us to work with you and share in your lives.  It’s been a great honor for us.

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Shepherds’ Notes

Summer has been in full swing for over a month now.  We have had a successful VBS, a great week for the children at Bible Camp, and good participation for the teens at MYM.  Since returning to one worship assembly on Sundays, our attendance has been encouraging.  Our Sunday evening Bible classes have been well-received.

Still to come is our annual gospel meeting July 23-25!  This year, Bryan McAlister from the Walnut Street congregation in Dickson, will be our guest speaker.  Many of us remember Bryan from when he was our 5th Sunday speaker in March 2019.  The elders want to encourage you to make plans to attend this time of worship and fellowship.

How astounding it must have been for those disciples who followed Jesus day after day around Palestine, listening to the words he spoke, observing the miracles he performed, and witnessing the life he lived!

Even with all they saw and heard, many of Jesus’ disciples did not grasp who it was walking before them.  They obviously knew they were in the presence of someone special, even someone sent from God, but they did not fully understand the mission and purpose of Jesus.

After Jesus was crucified and was resurrected, the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, and they began to preach the whole gospel of Jesus.  Men inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote books and letters about the life of Jesus and His church.  These books and letters became the New Testament as we have it today.

Because we have access to the New Testament, we can know who Jesus is, what He has done for us, and what His plan is for us.  The whole counsel of God has been given to us, let each of us be diligent in reading and studying that precious book.

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From Paul’s Pen

With each passing week, it is wonderful to see more faces we’ve not seen in a while. Hopefully, we will soon be past this pandemic, and everyone will be able to assemble together once again. Please don’t be lax in protecting yourself and others because we are still at risk; however, vaccinations and lower infection numbers should make us feel a little safer. If we can get out in public to shop and eat, we can surely come to worship God.

Our Sunday morning seating is now much like it was pre-COVID. But, for those who are still a little leery of such closeness, please join us on Sunday evenings for Bible classes when more space is allowed. There is no general assembly in the auditorium – we go directly to our classes for 45 minutes – and we have classes for everyone. There are two regular adult classes, a young families/young adult class, and a college-age/young adult class plus a teen class and classes for the younger children. The Lord’s Supper is served in the auditorium after the first bell is rung. We all need to feed on God’s word so please join us this Sunday evening at 6:00 P.M. and again on Wednesday evenings at 7:00.

I have been encouraged by those who’ve told me their faith is stronger because of the pandemic. That really doesn’t surprise me when we’ve had to rely so much on His providential care. Perhaps the chorus of this old hymn expresses what has happened!

One step at a time, dear Savior,

Till faith grows stronger in Thee:

One step at a time, dear Savior,

Till hope grows stronger in me.

Look forward to seeing you this Lord’s Day!

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Will’s Words

The saying goes, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” Who you surround yourself with is a big deal! We preach that message to our children and teenagers, but we adults shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking we outgrow this truth. “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33) applies to every age, every social class, every culture, and yes, every Christian.

Ultimately, we hear these things repeated so often because the power of influence is that powerful! Psalm 1 reminds us we are blessed when we handpick our closest friends from those who don’t walk in sin or scoff at righteousness. The Apostle Paul says, “Therefore do not become partners with them;for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light . . .” (Ephesians 5:7–8). He begins with “therefore” because he has just told us that God’s wrath is coming for those who live in disobedience and rebellion toward God. You and I must take seriously who we find companionship and comradery with because Christians should never fall into ranks with those who displease God­–because we are changed people who now live in the light.

This is one of the most apparent lessons we learn from Lot and him settling in Sodom. It seems Lot brings terrible pain and depravity to his house by choosing to live in the midst of wickedness. After seeing the fate of his wife and his morally bankrupt daughters, I wonder if Lot had regrets about who he chose to surround his family?

As we think about our own lives, who are our friends? Whose voices do we hear and whose actions do we see? Who are the people we are bound to become?

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Paul’s Pen

            It is so wonderful to be worshiping together once again! Before the pandemic hit, we took this for granted. Hopefully, we will never do so again. VBS gave us the occasion to visit and get acquainted again. To see the smiles and hear the conversations made me realize how hungry we are to resume our fellowship. While our new “normal” is different, I hope we will seize every opportunity to worship and study together on Sundays and Wednesdays.

            Our gospel meeting with Bryan McAlister is just around the corner so please reserve those dates on your calendar – July 23-25!

            While we wish you a Happy Father’s Day, every Sunday is our Father’s Day!

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From Chris’s Computer

Students are out of school and our congregation is racing into summer activities. We have already celebrated our seniors and have moved up the upcoming 7th graders into our youth group. It’s exciting to think about all the growth that our seniors have experienced in their time with our youth ministry and all the growth that our 7th graders will experience in the years to come.

It’s our hope that these seniors leave knowing God’s will for them, “their sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3) and that they will continue to live for Christ as they enter college and/or the work force. It’s also our hope that as these 7th graders enter the youth ministry, that they not only learn God’s will for them but also embrace it, becoming a more active part of God’s family here at Walter Hill.

Perhaps, one of the greatest lessons our seniors have learned is the importance of God’s church. This lesson has been taught in the way we care for one another as a church family. They have seen you care for one another in good times and in times of tragedy. You have also taught them through investment; from donating snacks for CYC, asking them how they are, or even teaching their Bible class. You have shown that they are a valuable part of the church. You have demonstrated that God’s people, the church, want to make a difference in each other’s lives and that it’s extremely possible. Thank you for investing in our students who are leaving the youth group and thank you for your continued investment in the lives of our students who are just joining us.

It’s my hope and prayer that parents of all aged children recognize the value that our family here at Walter Hill can bring to the lives of their children.