I'm a fan of St. Peter. I love his big heart and his big faith. He loved Jesus completely even though he often got Jesus' message wrong. He was emotional and quick to anger. But he was also quick to ask forgiveness and express real contrition. I love when Peter confessed that Jesus was the Son of God (Matthew 16:16). I love that Peter had faith enough to get out of the boat and walk on the water (Matthew 14:30). This big, loving man is the rock upon whom Christ founded His Church (Matthew 16:18). But one of my very favorite stories about St. Peter isn't found in the Bible but comes from an apocryphal book from the second century called the "Acts of Peter." It's well known to most Catholics, but many Protestants may never have heard the story. It goes like this. In the decades after Christ's Ascension, Peter had traveled to Rome to spread the Gospel the young Church there was being heavily persecuted by the Roman authorities. Soon Peter found himself on the wrong side of the pagan Empire and was in fear for his life. His friends urged him to quickly flee the city. Finally, he agreed and made his way out of Rome. As he was leaving the city gate he saw a figure approaching him on the road. As the man drew near to him, St. Peter realized that it was Jesus. He fell down in adoration and famously asked, "Quo vadis, Domine?" or "Where are you going, Lord?" Christ replied to Peter, "I am going to Rome to be crucified again." Peter knew then that he must return and face a martyr's death, as Jesus had foretold (John 21:18). It was Peter's love for the Lord that had led him to Rome, and it was that same love that led him back to his own crucifixion that day. Love was what bound Peter and Jesus together. After the Resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him, because love is the measure of faith. Jesus wasn't interested in Peter's business success, or his annual income, or if he was an inspiring leader or had great organizational skills. Jesus asked, "Do you love me?" (John 21:15-17). And Peter confessed, "Lord, You know all things. You know that I love You."
Even though the "Quo Vadis" story wasn't included in the canon of the Bible, I don't think that makes it any less "true." The Peter in this story is so true to the character of St. Peter in the Bible that it makes the story authentic, at least for me. And it illustrates something about our relationship with Christ that we all should consider --- when you imagine your future, is God in it? St. Peter imagined Christ with him in Rome and so he went there to spread the Gospel. He taught and preached in a hostile environment because he invited Christ into every meeting, every homily, every Mass. Christ lived in Peter and the fisherman was able to do things he could never have done on his own. It was only when Peter let go of Christ that he sank in the water, fled from Gethsemane, denied knowing Jesus, and ran away from Rome. When Peter lost sight of Jesus, he was really and truly lost. What's true for St. Peter is true for us.
You can't follow Jesus at a safe distance. Being His child means being immersed in the life of Christ, because our faith is the faith of relationship. We are created to be in relationship with our Creator. God IS relationship: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And God wants nothing less than that sort of love relationship with each and every one of us. And that means including Him in every moment of every day. Invite Him to share your day wake up. Ask Jesus to be with you in your commute. Invite the Lord to be with you in your work. Ask Christ to enter into your family time at meals and as you spend time at the ballgame or dance recital or mall. When you look at your weekly schedule, ask God to share it with you and to sanctify it with Hi indwelling presence. Invite Jesus to lead you in every step and then FOLLOW HIM. Never let anything or anyone come between you and Jesus. Like St. Peter, always be ready and willing to ask the Savior, "Where are you going, Lord?" And no matter what answer He gives you, take up your cross and follow Him. Your only future, your only life, is in the love of Christ.
"Let this be your whole endeavor, this your prayer, this your desire---that you may be stripped of all selfishness and with entire simplicity, follow Jesus only." ---Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)
Charlotte McGuffey, Salem Baptist Church
We are so thankful for the rain God sent us during the weekend. It was raining Sunday morning when we came out of church. We had several visitors on Sunday. Rodney and Jennifer Barton and their children were visiting from Augusta, Georgia. Rodney recently graduated from seminary and is awaiting a call in the ministry. They have been visiting Rodney’s parents, Barney and Barbara Barton and Christopher and Christy. Rodney preached for us in the evening service. Another brother and sister-in-law visited with us on Sunday night also. Barney and Barbara have enjoyed having all the children together over the weekend.
It was good to have Lee Gillian visiting with Marie Massengill. He is going to be attending grad school in Chattanooga and we hope to see him regularly.
We were glad to have Tommy and Joann Tillman with us on Sunday night. Joann is to have a laser procedure on her eyes on Tuesday and requests that we pray for improved vision with this procedure. Also, pray for their daughters, Lisa Rauch and Teresa Tillman, who are both having health issues. Lillian Bryson also visited with us again and it was good to see her. It’s always good to have Jerry and Margaret Watkins with us although we don’t consider them visitors.
We missed Janice Watkins Sunday as she is suffering with a cold or sinus infection. Phyllis Johnson is having some probable gallbladder problems and is awaiting results from an ultrasound. Others on the prayer list are Janie Arch (sister of Chubb Blevins), Charlie and Pat Bates, Alvin Kittle, Kay Rhymer, Kathleen Lewis, James Davidson (brother of Bill Davidson), Holly Stockburger, Mary Eslinger, Archie and Susie McNish and many suffering with arthritis, fibromyalgia and other painful ailments. Several members have requested prayer for their children and/or grandchildren who are not in church and have turned from the way they were raised.
A memorial service was recently held in Milton, Florida in memory of Dana Cornelison who passed away in January of this year.
Paul Bramlett was in the hospital at the time of this writing with COPD. Pray for him and Johnnie.
Jack and Barbara Ensley and Charlotte Dudley attended the meeting of the Lookout Council for the Blind. One of the members brought a ladies’ trio from her church that she sings with to sing for them. Anyone who is interested in this group, they meet on the 2nd Saturday of each month at Wally’s in East Ridge.
Tommy and Phyllis Johnson enjoyed spending some time at Cumberland State Park last week for some fishing and relaxing. It’s refreshing to get away occasionally and have a change of pace.
Johnnie Bramlett honored her husband, Paul, and great granddaughter, Amber, with a cookout last Tuesday evening for their birthdays, which were August 16 and August 13. All of Johnnie and Paul’s children and grandchildren attended.
The Ringgold High School Class of ’47 met for lunch at the Ivy Cottage in Lafayette last week. They enjoyed it very much and then went to the home of Jack and Marty Roberson for dessert.
Penny and Libby Eslinger, you were missed at the Ringgold market on Saturday. Hopefully, you will have plenty of those red, juicy tomatoes and watermelons, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant and so forth at the market next Saturday. Hello to my friend, Dale Eslinger – hope you are doing okay.
Thought of the week: If your foot slips, you can regain your balance; but if your tongue slips, you can never rebuild your image. So….. think before you speak!!
Margie Stringer, North Whitfield Baptist
Sunday was a good day. Our crowd was off; we had some vacationing, some away singing and others out visiting.
The Lord has sure blessed us with a lot of unexpected rain.
Our sympathy goes out to the family of William Weaver who passed away last week following a battle with cancer. Our sympathy goes out to Nancy Davis in the death of her sister last week.
Bro. Stringer reported a good preaching time service at Pilgrim Way Baptist Church. They have a service at our church every Saturday night and one night at Pilgrim Way.
We had one saved last Wednesday night. We appreciate all our visitors.
Pray for James Baughman. Also pray for Jimmy Hooper who is going to the hospital for some extensive blood work and he will have to be quarantine for several days.
Emma Jo Davis, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church
Sorry about the news last week. I was out of town visiting my son, Tim and family in S.C. We had a good time with them then a very special blessing as Tim's wife, May was saved that evening in the church they are attending. The Lord is so faithful and so merciful we can never thank Him enough for all His blessings. Praise His Name!
We had one of our missionaries with us Sunday, Bro. Tom and Dottie Lancaster. Bro. Lancaster preached a wonderful message on Heaven from John 14:1-6. Heaven is just a heartbeat away for all of us but to go there we must ask Jesus to come into our hearts and save us. Heaven is a real place, a perfect place and a haven of rest. I hope you know you are going there.
I asked about their son, Mark. He is also a missionary to the military in Europe. Mark has a heart condition and has had several procedures for it. He is doing better after the last one, but still has the problem so please pray for him and his family.
We had several out sick Sunday morning, Alma and John Bryson, Dewayne Hill, Lula Petty were all sick. Pray for these that they will be better soon. Remember Dianne Hullender this week as you pray; she will be having another chemo treatment on Tuesday. Her doctor said everything looks good but he would like for her to have another round of treatments just to be safe, but it was up to her so she decided to have them. Doris Pitts is also having chemo treatments. She really needs prayer.
Sunday evening Bro. David preached from Romans 12:1-2. He has been preaching from Romans for some time now and this has been a real blessing.
We were happy to have a cousin of Bro. David and her husband in the service on Sunday evening. Really enjoyed their song.
We are thankful for all our visitors and would love to have them back with us anytime.
Vanessa, a niece of Betty Pitts had to undergo surgery again and is back in ICU. She suffers with Lupus and is very sick at this time. Al Holsomback is not doing well at this time. Please pray for these when you pray. My brother John Silvey is doing well after his surgery last Tuesday. Also Denise Phillips is doing better now. Thank the Lord for these answers to prayer.
Others on our prayer list are: Ellie Pitts, Louise Clark, Dorothy Longwith, Norma Headrick, Edna Allen, Bernice Orr, Johnny Chapman, Benny Wilson, Junior and Ida Land, Kim Owens, Holly Stockburger, Jan Elliott, our missionaries, our military and our country.
Happy belated birthday wishes go to Karen Kelly, August 17. Judy Moore, August 18.
Happy birthday wishes to Jonathan Headrick, August 23, Jimmy Blassingame, August 25, Sarah Headrick, August 27.
Happy anniversary wishes go to Benny and Doris Wilson, August 9, Donnie and Brenda Howard, August 11, Tim and Karen Holcomb, August 23. We wish them many more!