Growing in the Word

by Justin Morton

If someone were to ask “Why is the Bible important to you?”, how would you answer that question? I am sure we could give a lot of different reasons for why God’s Word is important to us. We might say things like: to help in our battle to combat sin (Psa. 119:9-11), to help grow and mature in the faith (I Pet. 2:1-2; Heb. 5:11-6:1) or even to help lead and guide us as we travel down this road called life (Psa. 119:105). We have many reasons God’s Word is important to us.

But let’s say someone followed up that first question by asking “How do you demonstrate the importance of the Bible in your life?” Well that is an entirely different question, isn’t it? While it’s easy to list all the reasons the Bible is important, it’s much harder to list how we live out the importance of God’s Word in our daily lives. Job showed the importance of God’s Word in his life by prioritizing it over food. “I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food” (Job 23:12). Could we make the same claim as Job?

Tonight begins a new quarter for our Bible classes. If you have not been attending a class, tonight is a great opportunity to start! Light green fliers in the lobby list all the adult classes that are being offered, both on Sunday and Wednesday nights. As always we offer classes for children of all ages, from babies to teens. I want to encourage you to look those over and pick out a class that you think will be interesting and uplifting to you and then make plans to attend every class session you can. Sometimes we go to the same class or classroom for years because it is our habit, but going to classes with different people and teachers can challenge all of us to think about the Bible in distinct ways. Don’t miss out on a fantastic study that will bless your life and help you grow in your knowledge of God’s Word. Attending Bible class is a great way to demonstrate the importance of God’s Word in our lives. Let’s continue growing in our knowledge of the Lord and His Word (2 Pet. 3:18).


For All He’s Done

by Justin Morton

On Thursday, many of us will gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. Although we do already have our Christmas tree up at the Morton house, I love Thanksgiving. I love everything from the anticipation we feel on Wednesday as the family is already starting to prepare some of the food, to the road trip to grandma’s house. I love the family meal we share to the laying around and saying “I ate too much.” Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday many of us enjoy.

And while we will celebrate and reflect on all the things we have to be thankful for this week, let’s not forget our lives should be centered around giving thanks every day of every year. The Apostle Paul said, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18). According to Paul, no matter our situation, we should always give thanks. But let’s be honest for a moment, being thankful is not always easy. Sometimes we find ourselves in some very difficult positions. And still Paul said, “Give thanks in ALL circumstances.”

The word ALL in this passage is significant. If anyone could have found a reason not to be grateful due to his circumstances, it was certainly Paul. He experienced a great deal of pain and suffering for serving the Lord. The difficulties he had to endure were many (2 Corinthians 11:23-33). And yet, Paul wrote, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” Why would Paul write such a thing? While it would be easy to speculate his reasoning, the answer is found at the end of the verse. The reason we should give thanks in all circumstances is because “This is the will of God, in Christ Jesus for you.” Friends, it is God’s will for us to be people who always give thanks no matter our situation.

As you spend time reflecting on all the things you are thankful for this coming week, I hope you will allow that attitude to carry over to every other day of your life. Our circumstances may not always be pleasant, they may even be trying and challenging, but just stop and consider all the great blessings God has given us and our families. God has been so good to each one of us and has already given us the victory through His Son, Jesus Christ. May we always be grateful and thankful to Him for all He has done.


Shepherds’ Notes

In the Shepherds’ Notes article from November 2022, it highlighted the Annual Friday Night Singing, the impending holiday season, our college students returning home soon for their holiday break, the addition of several new individuals and families to the Walter Hill congregation, and the blessing of having visitors coming to worship with us.

There were some thoughts about using the same article again this year as it would certainly be applicable this November.

One thing I (we) sometimes fail to do is express my (our) appreciation for our office staff, Chris, Janice, Justin, and Paul (listed alphabetically).  This group of four work together as a team to serve the Walter Hill congregation.  Each one has different responsibilities and each one endeavors to accomplish the work to which they are assigned.

Chris truly gives of himself to work with our teens and Walter Hill is greatly blessed to have a lot of teenagers and younger children.  Chris, working with our parents, is guiding our young people to be disciples of Christ during their teen years and beyond.  Chris would be the first to tell you that his wife, Emily, is his biggest supporter and partner in his work.

Janice serves as our office manager.  Many who are new to Walter Hill may not have met Janice yet, but she quietly and effectively keeps the office in order.  Her responsibilities vary widely as she gets the bulletin printed, helps with food assistance, fields numerous phone calls, orders materials…you get the picture.

Justin has proved to be a blessing to the Walter Hill congregation since coming here to serve as our preaching minister.  His lessons are carefully prepared and delivered.  More importantly, his lessons present us the truth from God’s word.  The shepherds at Walter Hill have full confidence in Justin and his work.  Justin’s wife, Miranda, is truly a joy to have here at Walter Hill.

Paul served the Walter Hill congregation for many years as the preaching minister before “semi-retiring” and transitioning into the role of our associate minister.  He is a regular Bible class teacher, conducts GriefShare, and fills in for Justin when he is out.  For all these many years, Paul’s wife, Gail, has faithfully supported Paul in his work at Walter Hill.

Chris, Janice, Justin, and Paul, please accept the thanks from the elders and this congregation for your service in the Lord’s church at Walter Hill.


Our Freedom Came With A Price

Justin Morton

This coming Saturday, November 11, our nation will celebrate Veteran’s Day. This is an annual federal holiday to honor all the veterans who have served our great country. While many of us may have family or friends who are veterans, our congregation is blessed to have a good number of men and women who have bravely served our country. We would like for each of you to know how much we appreciate all the sacrifices you made in order to serve the United States. Although words are not nearly enough, we do say THANK YOU! Thank you for putting others above yourselves and placing your lives on the line in order to serve. Thank you for the days, months and years you endured combat on foreign fields and separation from your families to help keep us safe. Our country enjoys the freedoms we do today because of brave men and women like you.

As Americans, we enjoy many freedoms and privileges because people have been willing to make great sacrifices throughout the years. I hope you and I never take our freedoms for granted. Likewise, as Christians, we are privileged and blessed with an even greater freedom, but one that we all too often forget. Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Each and every one of us deserves death because of our sins, but because of Jesus Christ we are offered freedom instead.  

Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice and laid down His own life for all mankind (Jn. 10:17-18; Rom. 5:6-9). His sacrifice was not just for good people, but also for evil people. He did not shed his blood for one race, but for all races. His death on the cross was not only for one nation, but for all nations. We are able to enjoy freedom from sin and death because of the sacrifice Jesus made on that old rugged cross some 2,000 years ago.

This week, as you reflect on the freedom this country enjoys and thank those who helped make that freedom possible, be sure to take some time to thank our heavenly Father above. A great sacrifice was made so we could enjoy freedom from sin and death. While salvation may be free, it came at a great price.


From Chris’s Computer

As the school year was about to start Justin did a sermon with our students in mind helping them prepare spiritually for the school year. One of his points had to do with our call to be holy, and he gave four practical ways in which we can be holy. As I heard those four points, I thought they were worth spending more time discussing and studying with our teens. So we’ve started looking at these practical ways for us to live holy in Bible class.

Before I share the four practical ways for us to be holy, I want to first discuss what it means to be holy. To be holy is to be set apart. Practically this means we are different from the world. Our call is to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). We are to be like God in our holiness striving to be more like Him, each day.

Four practical ways for us to be holy revolves around doing basic things different from the world. To be holy we must: think, act, talk, and love differently. If we dedicate ourselves to doing these things differently we will certainly grow in Christlikeness and be more holy. Let’s take a quick look at each of these with some verses for us to mediate on.

Think Differently: As Christians we must think differently from the world. Colossians 3:1-4 makes it clear if we want to go to heaven, we must think about heaven. When we set our mind on heaven, we are seeking heaven. Philippians 4:8 gives us some helpful insight on what we as Christians should be thinking about. Ultimately, we must think about good and uplifting things.

Act Differently: Perhaps this is the one we think of the most as Christians. James 1:13-15 explains temptation comes from our own evil desires. As holy people we must learn to hate evil (Romans 12:9) and strive to do away with every evil desire.

Talk Differently: We all have experienced the difficulties of controlling our tongue. All of us know how easy it is to say something offensive and hurtful. This is why James 3:1-12 describe our tongues as being destructive. We must use our tongues to build up (Ephesians 4:29) instead of tearing down.

Love Differently: The world misunderstands love dramatically. If we are going to be holy, we must love all people. Our love must mimic the love of Christ. We must want what’s best for the person spiritually, even if this means being honest about sin in their life. We must love people differently by loving them enough to tell them about Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20), to bear their burdens (Galatians 6:1), and we must even be willing to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48).

If we strive to do these things and to grow in these ways, we will be growing in holiness. People will notice we are different and God will be glorified (Matthew 5:13-16).


From Paul’s Pen

             Several years ago, a dear sister in Christ was very frustrated with me for refusing to see Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. She could not understand why I did not want to see Hollywood’s portrayal of the most important death in human history. Most of the time, it is all I can do to read the vivid gospel accounts of my Savior’s cruel crucifixion! I wrestle with these thoughts each Lord’s Day as we remember His death. What do you think about as we gather around the Lord’s table?

            I don’t believe anyone can dictate what we should be thinking about during this solemn feast; however, there are several different Biblical trains of thought that are appropriate. Naturally, it is a time to reflect on the death of Christ – a point the apostle Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 11:26. We are assisted in this focus by so many hymns sung before and after the Lord’s Supper.

            Another possibility is to reflect on what the elements represent – the body and blood of Christ given for our sins. Jesus certainly stated this in Luke 22:19-20. This could include the painful scourging and crucifixion, or one might concentrate on the beautiful symbolism of the bread and the cup.

            It would be very “normal” to think about our sinfulness and the impossibility to fathom what God and His Son did for us at Calvary. One passage to consider would be Romans 5:8 as we meditate on the lyrics of Why Did My Savior Come to Earth?

            One often-overlooked facet of the Lord’s Supper is the communal aspect that Paul alludes to in 1 Corinthians 10:17. He gets even more specific in 1 Corinthians 11:29 when he warns against the failure to discern or recognize the Lord’s body during communion (i.e., assuming that division within the Corinthian church was acceptable). There is a horizontal aspect in the Lord’s Supper as we recognize and lovingly accept our fellow members of the Lord’s body.

            As we read the gospel accounts of Christ instituting His supper (e.g., Mark 14:22-25), it does not appear that He expects us to agonize each Lord’s Day. Rather, this memorial should be observed in the shadow of His resurrection – His horrible death in the face of hope.

            And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,

            Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;

            That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,

            He bled and died to take away my sin.


Striking Out When It Matters

Justin Morton

As I write this, the Major League Baseball playoffs are underway. Currently 4 teams are fighting for an opportunity to play for the World Series Championship. Last night, one of the teams playing was my beloved Atlanta Braves. For the last 6 months, they have been playing baseball 6 days a week. Over the course of the 162 game season, the Braves won 104 games and finished in first place in their division by 14 games. They produced historic numbers on offense and have been called by some “the best offense in baseball history.” Needless to say, they have had a great year.

Despite what they did during the regular season and all the records the team broke along the way, none of that matters now. Despite a record-breaking regular season, the Braves struck out when it mattered most. What they did in the regular season was good, but that’s in the past. Last night, the Braves were defeated, and their season is over.

The Walter Hill congregation has a good past. So many positive works have been done by the believers who have worshipped at this location. The Gospel truth has been taught, and souls have been saved. And as good as that is, it’s not what matters now. What is important now is how the Walter Hill congregation is doing presently. Are we seeking God’s kingdom above everything else (Matt. 6:33)? Are we teaching the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27)? Are we making disciples of those around us (Matt. 28:19-20)? Are we loving our neighbors (Matt 22:39-40)? Are we serving others (Phil. 2:3-4)? Are we raising up young people in the instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4)? Are we seeking those things that are above (Col. 3:1-3)? Are we loving God with all of our heart, soul, and mind (Matt 22:37-38)?

I am so thankful for the Walter Hill congregation and all that has been done in the past. However, our aim should be that our best days are before us and not behind us. We are living in a critical time in our culture. The Lord needs us to shine brightly. Will we be satisfied with our past and strike out when it matters most or will we take advantage of the present opportunity  to succeed for God’s glory?


Shepherds’ Notes

We are so blessed at Walter Hill. We have three fantastic ministers who are sound doctrinally, fun to be around, and can present God’s word in a manner we can all understand. The elders are very excited about the future of this location and growth potential, both spiritually and numerically.

Justin continues to proclaim the gospel in a very straight forward manner that is easy to understand and apply to our lives. His sermon last Sunday is just one example. If you remember, his lesson was on baptism and why it is important. He explained what it is, what it does, and when it should be done. He provided examples of the importance of not waiting or scheduling a convenient time but to act swiftly as it is one of the steps of salvation.

Chris is so active with the youth it will make your head spin. Our youth have opportunity after opportunity to be involved with each other. Chris spends hours preparing them to fight the challenges each are going through as part of growing up. Their salvation is priority for him and it is reflected in the way he cares for each of them individually.

Paul is a rock. He is someone we can lean on for sound advice and comfort. Although he is part time he serves us fulltime. If he is not filling in for Justin or teaching a class he is studying in his office.

Let’s also remember their wives. We all know behind every good man is a good wife. Thank you Miranda, Emily, and Gail.

We cannot forget others who keep things running smoothly. Janice is working diligently to keep up with the bulletin and keeping the elders up on current events. I would be amiss if I did not mention Steve Hickson, Jessica, and Josh who keep the facility clean and stocked.

We have so many workers; our deacons, our teachers, our club 456 leaders, our care groups, our visitation teams, our greeters, our young ladies who put out the attendance cards and the young men who collect them. We have so many who work behind the scenes writing cards, visiting, calling folks, baking cookies and sweets to give away. The list goes on and on.

             The Lord has blessed His family that meets here. This family at Walter Hill church of Christ is so special and the Lord is so good. It is easy to invite friends and family to visit with us and encourage them to be a part of our church family. To all our members, thanks. Let’s all encourage one another this week. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as you are doing.”



by Justin Morton

No matter what our age may be, most of us probably do not enjoy being corrected. In fact, one of the hardest things to do is to stop and listen when someone is trying to correct us or our behavior. We see this play out time and time again when we discipline our children. When our young children try to touch a hot stove, we correct them. When they run out toward the street while playing, we correct them. When they disobey us, we correct them. And guess what we discover? Often our children do not like to be corrected! Honestly, who does? 

However, just because we do not like to be corrected does not mean we do not need to be corrected. We all have moments in our lives where we find ourselves saying or doing things that make us or our family look bad. We have been guilty of behaving or speaking in ways that brought shame and reproach upon the church. The Bible has a great deal to say about the need to rebuke those living and acting in sin (Lk. 17:3-4; Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 4:2). Friends, when such moments happen in our lives, we need a brother or sister to reach out to us with a gentle and loving hand of correction, not to be the Christian police, but to help us in our walk with God.

The wise man said, “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid” (Prov. 12:1). Wow, what strong language! My guess: because it gets the point across. When someone is trying to correct us, our typical response may be to start offering excuses. Just as our children try to justify their behavior, sadly, sometimes we do also. Instead, we need to stop and listen. These caring Christian family members just might be saying something we need to hear.

Brothers and sisters, we all will find ourselves in need of a gentle hand of correction at some point. When that time comes, how will we respond? Will we offer up a variety of excuses? Will we accuse the person trying to correct us of being judgmental? Or will we stop and listen to what we are being told?  The correction these individuals are offering just might change the course of our eternity.  


From Paul’s Pen

             God often takes on human characteristics in the Old Testament. For example, He walks in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:8. Isaiah 5:25 indicates He has a hand while Daniel 9:18 makes it clear that God has eyes and ears. These attributions of human characteristics to the Lord are known as “anthropomorphisms.” The on-line Cambridge Dictionary defines anthropomorphism as “the showing or treating of animals, gods, and objects as if they are human in appearance, character, or behavior.” Anthropomorphisms help us (humans) better understand the divine Spirit who created the heavens and the earth and everything in them.

            The incarnation – when “the Word became flesh and dwelt among” men (John 1:14) – temporarily removed this need for anthropomorphisms. The apostle John opened his first epistle with his testimony to the physical manifestation of the Word (1 John 1:1-2). Our faith is based on these eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus. We tend to rely less on the physical characteristics of “God in the flesh” and more on the fact that He “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, I know that God Himself can sympathize with my weaknesses (which are too numerous to mention)!

            But there is one anthropomorphism which we need to retain and emulate – and that is the heart of God. Remember the words of Samuel in 1 Samuel 13:14 – as he informed Saul that his kingdom was going to end? “The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart.” As John Willis suggests in his commentary, the context suggests that David, unlike Saul, “would submit his will to God’s will and not take matters into his own hand.” The Lord still seeks such today which begs the question, “Are we people after God’s own heart?”

            In addition to being submissive to God’s will, do we love like God – seeking what is best for others without expecting anything in return (1 John 4:7-11)? Are we merciful (Matthew 5:7)? Are we compassionate like Jesus (Matthew 9:36)? Are we forgiving (Matthew 6:14-15)? To have a heart like God’s requires constant effort. David failed in so many ways and we will too. However, we can change as the prayer in this song suggests:

            My eyes are dry, My faith is old,

            My heart is hard, My pray’rs are cold.

            And I know how I ought to be,

            Alive to You and dead to me.

            What can be done to an old heart like mine?

            Soften it up with oil and wine.

            The oil is You, Your spirit of love.

            Please wash me anew in the wine of your blood.