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From Paul’s Pen

            After repeatedly doing something for twenty-five years, it’s hard to stop! That’s how I feel as I write this article. I’ll still write one once a month, but Justin will bear most of the responsibility. I have mixed emotions as I step away from full-time work. However, I know it is time to let a younger, more energetic man step up to the plate.

            It’s hard to believe I’ve been here this long and yet it seems as if I started yesterday. You have welcomed Gail and me into your lives and made us a part of the Walter Hill family. We love and appreciate you more than words can ever express. There have been few rough spots along the way. In fact, there have been so few that I can’t even remember them.

            I am thankful for the opportunity to continue serving in a part-time position. That’s where I have had so many mixed emotions. I never read about gospel preachers retiring in the New Testament. I think like old soldiers, we don’t die – we simply fade away! I hope to do just that at Walter Hill – very slowly! In the meantime, I’ll walk with each of you down life’s pathway as we strive for heaven.

            I’m not ready to cite the apostle Paul’s valedictory address from 2 Timothy 4:6-8. However, we would all do well to heed the Lord’s guidance of Joshua 1:6-9 in a 21st century setting: “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

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From Chris’s Computer

This time of year is so busy! Everyone I have talked to has mentioned the busyness of this season. Graduation parties, ball games, and weddings are beginning to fill our calendars. It feels like the month of May is the busiest month of the year. While busyness tries to take over, it’s important to remember to give our attention and time to the most important areas. Even in the busyness, we must make sure we are spending time in prayer, reading the Bible, and with the Lord’s people.

Prayer is our way of including God in the busyness of life. We should never leave Him out of our plans. We need to be sure to bring God with us by talking to Him often and everywhere, even at the ballpark (1 Thess. 5:17).

We must also make sure we continue to mediate on God’s Word letting it guide us through the busyness. Throughout my life this has been easy for me to neglect. If this is true for you as well, let me encourage you to keep working at it, making it a priority. The simple decision to make God’s Word a priority can make a big difference. Check out Psalm 119 for motivation.

As life gets busy, it can be easy to neglect our church family. So, let’s be intentional and decide to make our church family a priority. One way we can do this is by adding VBS, camp, the gospel meeting, and all other summer actives to our personal calendars, right now, deciding they are the priority over everything else.

Life is crazy and if we are going to survive the craziness, we need the Lord’s help. Luckily, we have a God who listens, inspired Words to guide, and a loving church family. Let’s not neglect any of these assets.

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Shepherds’ Notes

Happy Mother’s Day!

In Proverbs chapter 31, King Lemuel’s mother offers her son some very wise advice.   Paraphrasing, she warns him of sexual immorality, to not drink, to judge righteously and stand up for the poor and needy.   Then she spends the rest of the chapter telling the King what to look for in a virtuous wife.   Often, we focus on the latter part of the chapter, but the beginning of the chapter shows just how much the King’s mother loves him.   The King is her son, she carried and gave birth to him, and she made promises and commitments to care for him.  Some translations imply that he was the answer to her prayers.   She certainly wants what is best for him.

Scripture often talks of a mother’s love, and in other verses in Proverbs it talks about how painful it is when a mother’s child is foolish or rebellious.    That should give us some insight as to how much our Heavenly Father loves us!   After all, he gave us life, wants what is best for us, and has made us promises that he will keep!

How very thankful we are for our mothers here at Walter Hill.    We have some virtuous women that do a fantastic job raising young men and ladies, and we have some very faithful men and women that are serving because of a mother’s influence.

This time of year gets very busy.     Looking back two years ago, maybe we should be thankful that it is busy again.   But, please take time this Sunday to honor your mother, whether it be a phone call, a visit, or a memory or good deed through which to honor her.

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From Chris’s Computer

This weekend, the teens and I are away at “Reaching Rutherford”.  The goal of “Reaching Rutherford” is to equip our teenagers with the tools necessary to share the gospel.  It’s important when opportunities arise to share the good news that we are prepared to show what God’s Word says.

To equip our teens, we are focusing on nine verses we believe to be essential to defending and explaining the purpose of baptism and worshipping God with A cappella singing.  These are conversations we all need to be ready for, so I want to provide you with the nine verses we will be encouraging our teens to be familiar with.

The first verse is 2 Timothy 3:16, because it’s important for us all to remember God’s Word has the authority and final say in all we do.  The next three verses deal with A cappella worship; Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19; Hebrews 13:15.  Each of these verses describe singing to God and one another or using the fruit of our lips to praise God.  Check out these and notice for yourself what they say about singing.

The next five verses all deal with the purpose of baptism.  These verses are Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:1-5; John 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21.  Each of these passages show that baptism is essential for salvation.  They point to baptism as the moment of time we receive God’s grace.  I hope you can take some time to review these verses.  I hope you will ask yourself, “what do these verses show me about baptism?”

God’s Word must be the guide when discussing matters of salvation and God.  We cannot be motivated by being right, but by the desire God has for all people to be saved.

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Shepherds’ Notes

“JESUS CARES” 

On a recent trip down Highway 70 going into Waverly, I noticed that someone had mowed their lawn in a way to leave these words in taller grass.  With the recent disaster in Waverly, I hope this gives the residents that suffered so much loss great comfort as they pass by and see these words.  Seeing these words, I wondered how we show others that Jesus cares.

Has anyone told you they care about you today or this week?  Sometimes we let others know we care about them when they are struggling with health concerns or other things that are going on in their lives that cause concern.  But what about the days that seem so good where nothing is going wrong, shouldn’t we be letting each other know we care about them in these times as well?

Many of you are especially good at sending cards or messages by means of a text or other ways to let others know you are thinking about them.  Do we reassure each other that Jesus cares?   In John 19:26-27 Jesus showed He cared for His mother as He was dying on the cross.  At the death of Lazarus, Jesus wept showing His care and compassion.  In Mark 10: 13-16 we are told of His care of little children.

We can look at many more examples that show us how much Jesus cares.  He cared enough about us to give His life on the cross.  Consider the words of Jesus in John 14:27. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

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From Chris’s Computer

Wow, I’ve now been at Walter Hill for just over 3 years, and it has certainly been a great blessing. The last year and a half have been filled with even more blessings since Emily has been with me at Walter Hill regularly.  She is such a bright spot in the lives of our teens, especially our young ladies. I am so grateful for her.

We have both been so blessed by Paul and Gail. They have been huge encouragements to us since the beginning. I am so thankful Paul will be sticking around and for the guidance he will continue to provide as we work together. Emily and I are looking forward to the Morton’s arrival as well. We are confident they will be a blessing to Walter Hill and to us personally.

This weekend, we traveled up to our Alma mater, Freed-Hardeman, for “Making Music”, a show the students put on each April. We have been greatly anticipating getting away for the weekend. It’s sometimes just so nice to get away to rest.

The book of Hebrews reminds us of a rest, far superior to any rest we can experience at the nicest hotel. Heaven is going to be a great rest for all of God’s family to experience. Heaven will be a permeant rest from the heartaches of Earth, from the temptations we face, and the stress of life.

Yet, if we want to experience this rest, we must remember Hebrews 4:11 where we are encouraged to make every effort to enter the rest, so we don’t fall into a pattern of disobedience. This is a critical reminder for us. We must be obedient to the Word of God if we want to enter the heavenly rest!

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From Paul’s Pen

            Forgive me as I briefly reminisce about the past twenty-five years at Walter Hill. Gail and I moved here from Nashville after serving the Lindsley Avenue church for two years – our first ministerial work. We were not looking to move but Jim Creech called me and invited me to “try out” in December of 1996. I did and the rest is history.

            I preached my first sermon as the newly-hired minister on April 6, 1997. On Sunday evening, May 25th, I preached on Romans 1:26-32 – emphasizing the sin of homosexuality. When we arrived for services on Wednesday evening, Cleveland Wrather unlocked the front doors and immediately the building filled with smoke. Lightning had struck the roof earlier in the week and the fire had smoldered until the open doors fed the flames. (This was at our former location on East Jefferson Pike.)

            I have often looked back on that fire as a God-send because it helped bond the congregation together – sometimes as many as 140 of us meeting in the small fellowship hall while the building was repaired. We got back in the building on Sunday, July 13th, and held Vacation Bible School July 27-30 (Sunday – Wednesday nights). That was quite an accomplishment with a lot of effort by so many.

            We started growing numerically and changing demographically. Our average age began to lower as more young families became a part of Walter Hill. We finally reached our maximum size – unable to expand any more. People would drive into the parking lot on Sunday mornings and leave because there was no more space. We moved into our current building in June of 2005 – with plenty of room for expansion.

            I don’t pretend that any of the successes over the past twenty-five years are because of me. Remember it is God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:7). However, with the arrival of Justin and his family, Walter Hill should see some more growth as the congregation labors together. It is a phenomenon that almost always occurs with a new minister and I look forward to being a part in a supporting role!

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From Paul’s Pen

            Last Sunday morning, we had one of the largest crowds in quite a while. It may have been because our young men conducted most of the worship service and some family members came to witness one of their own. Whatever the reason, it is good to see our numbers slowly increasing and perhaps will soon reach pre-COVID figures.

            I want to use this article to commend these young men for their courage and willingness to publicly serve in worship. It really doesn’t matter how you participated – it’s the fact that you did! We had some who lead prayers, read Scripture, lead songs, gave a talk, served during the Lord’s Supper, and took up the offering. Thank you, Chris, for organizing this service. But thank you most of all young men for leading us in worship.

            I hope I do not omit anyone in the list of those who participated but I want to personally commend each of you by name: Dylan Knox; Martin Nance; Hunter Bradford; Alex Norwood; Tyler Lancaster; Bradley Lane; Gabe Hintz; Jack Byrd; Hunter Jones; and David Cary. We are so proud of each of you because we know how difficult it is to get up in front of an audience. I remember how difficult it was for me the first few years as I would get up to serve in any way. My face would turn red, my knees would quake, and I would sweat profusely! Little did I know how much the worshipers were simply thankful for my service.

            We love our young people at Walter Hill and want to encourage all of you to serve in any way you can. We know you need encouragement but know that you are also an encouragement to us! Last Sunday was a great example!

            “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18a; NKJV).

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From Paul’s Pen

             I believe we are all thankful for our elders’ decision on the new minister for Walter Hill! We are very thankful for all the hard work done by the search committee and for the prayers and cooperation of the membership at Walter Hill. We now look forward to Justin and his family getting safely settled in and fully onboard.

            This will be a big adjustment for all of us – me included. But together, we can make it work. I believe this is a win-win situation for all of us! I’m tired and ready to slow down a bit. And this is the next step in Justin’s dreams – to preach full-time. Let’s give him (and his family) all the love and encouragement you’ve given me and my family for the past quarter of a century.

            We’re coming out of COVID in better shape than many congregations and we have the opportunity to do even more in the kingdom with renewed energy. But it takes each of us doing our part. May we all rededicate ourselves to carrying our load within the Lord’s body.

            “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many… But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 24b-25; NKJV).

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Shepherds’ Notes

Recently, in a conversation with a brother, we were talking about the daffodils which have come into bloom and how pretty they are this year.  This brother remarked how the blooming daffodils gave him a sign of hope for the year.  It is an acknowledgement that God is in control, and He has set His creation in order.

In Hebrews 11:1 the writer states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

We can look at the daffodils and be assured that spring and summer are coming, even though the azaleas are not in bloom and tomato plants are not producing tomatoes yet.

We have young couples preparing for their weddings this year.  It is a sign of hope that God will bless these marriages as two become one flesh and start a life together in union with God.

We have couples who will soon bring a new life into the world.  It is a sign of hope to see a child raised by parents who love the Lord and want to teach their children to also love the Lord.

Some of us who have lived relatively long lifespans should certainly make hope a major part of our lives.  We can look back and rejoice in the hope of the young, but we are not without hope.  Just as daffodils provide hope in the physical world, God’s Word, His church, His promises, all provide hope to all of us.

In Hebrews, faith is linked to hope.  The greatest assurance of better things to come rests in our faith in Jesus Christ.

The fourth verse of Edward Mote’s hymn, My Hope is Built on Nothing Less, describes that hope.

When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found:
dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne.