In our relationships with one another we treasure those people who know us and love us. Lifelong friends and family who know all our strengths and failings and love us anyway are trusted and beloved gifts. Without this core of love and support, we can easily lose our way. We rely on them to keep us grounded, to encourage us, to call us out when we go off course, to listen to us and to stand with us in good times and in bad times. To be truly known by someone else, we have to make ourselves vulnerable to them. We can't hide our thoughts and feelings if we seek intimacy. Those we allow inside our hearts are the ones whose words and actions can most hurt us, too. I love reading about the friendship between Jesus and Peter in the gospels. Of all the relationships in Christ's human life, the one He shares with St. Peter intrigues me the most. Peter has such a big heart---a God-sized heart---and he loves deeply and fiercely. His heart also leads him to poor judgments at times, and deep, painful regrets. Jesus knew his friend's heart perfectly because He created it. I think it was his big heart that Christ loved so much and it was that same bigness of heart that allowed Peter to hear the Holy Spirit and know that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah.
Jesus had been living in Capernaum, Peter's hometown on the sea of Galilee, when He began His public ministry. You have to wonder how well the two men knew each other before Christ called Peter and his brother Andrew to be His first disciples. I love that Peter heard Jesus' call to follow and "at once" he and his brother followed Him (Matthew 5:20). Friends that don't hesitate to come to us when we need them are the very best kind. All of us have that short list of true friends and family that we call on in bad times to help us and in good times to celebrate with us. Christ called Peter and Peter left everything behind---family, home and business---to come with Him and enter into the deepest and most transformational relationship he'd ever know. Peter was there by Christ's side throughout His ministry. It was Peter's faith that Christ loved so much that He made him the "rock" upon whom He'd build His Church (Matthew 16:18). Peter was there with Christ at His Transfiguration (Luke 9:27-36). Peter's faith allowed him to step out of the boat and walk on the water towards Christ---at least for a few steps (Mark 6:45-52). Yet Peter had his weaknesses as well. Oftentimes he got Christ's teachings a bit wrong, but our Lord was patient and forgiving with Peter, just as He is with each one of us.
On the night before His Passion, Peter and Jesus experience a turning point in their friendship. At supper, Christ foretells the betrayal that will lead to His arrest. Peter is adamant that his faith in the Lord would never be shaken. Jesus pointedly tells Peter that is about to deny Him not once, but three times. Peter contradicts and says "Even though I should have to die with You, I will not deny You (Matthew 26:35). Of course we know that Peter does deny Christ three times that morning, just as the Lord had said he would. Peter's heart is broken when he realizes what he's done to his Savior. We read in St. Luke's gospel of an intimate, tender moment in their friendship. Just as Peter has denied Christ for the third time and the guards are leading Jesus away in chains, "the Lord turned and looked at Peter" (Luke 22:61). Think about that look for a moment. The cruel words have just left Peter's mouth, the cock has crowed and now he's looking into Jesus' eyes, with the full impact of his denial hanging in the air between them. Peter knows what he's done. Christ knows what he's done. But in His look is no accusation or judgment. His look is full of love for Peter. And seeing Love looking back at him, Peter breaks down into tears, his heart overflowing with sorrow for what he's done. Christ returns love and mercy for denial. We can even imagine that there is hope in Christ's eyes, the hope of Peter's redemption. What Jesus does for Peter in that moment is what He does for each one of us in the Sacrament of Confession. He meets our sins with His overwhelming forgiveness. He embraces our weaknesses with His great mercy. Like Peter, we may expect condemnation, but Christ surprises us with acceptance and with love. No sin is beyond His forgiveness. Nothing we could ever do will make Him turn His face from us. This is what Peter saw when He looked at Jesus. And Jesus saw His best friend whom He loved with all His heart and for whom He was about to give His life. This is a moment that He offers to each one of us in Confession. Love. Mercy. Forgiveness. No matter your sins or how long you've been away from the Sacrament. He is waiting for you there. Christ is the One Who knows you best and loves you most.
"You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." ---The Confession of St. Peter, Matthew 16:16
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Shannon Smith, Pathway Baptist Church
Let’s have revival! That has been our theme for many months now and today would be no different. God began speaking to hearts as soon as the first song was sung. People started going to the altars with their burdens. As we celebrated Father’s Day today I pray each of you took the time to thank your heavenly Father for all He has done and continues to do for you. The bible says that if our earthly fathers give good gifts on this earth, how much more will our heavenly father give greater gifts for His children.
Bro. Mark preached from 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Matthew 17:1-8 tilted “Revival Brings” His points were 1.) Revival Brings the Favor of God 2.) Revival Brings elevation 3.) Revival brings Separation. 4.) Revival Brings the Glory of God 5.) Revival Brings the touch of God
Sunday evening we had “A Night of Preaching” each of our preachers in our church took a few minutes to preach about “The Miracle of It All” John 2:1-10 Bro. Tommy Broom preached on “The Miracle of His Presence & Power”. Bro. Steve Yarbrough preached on “The Miracle of the Invitation”. Bro. Charles Blair preached “The Miracle of the Emptiness”. Bro. Tony Wells Preached on “The Miracle of the Timing”. Bro. Mark preached on “The Miracle of the Command”. Bro. Justin Ozment preached on ‘The Miracle of the Drawing Out”. Bro. Josh Smith Preached on “The Miracle of Saving the Best for Last” they all done a great job, continue to pray that God will open doors for each of them to preach. We had some visitors tonight and we hope the service was a blessing to you.
Saturday June 23rd the WMU will meet at 11:00am in the church fellowship hall all ladies are invited to attend. The Brotherhood has set the date for their annual Men’s retreat for Aug. 17th &18th if you are interested in going you will need to see Bro. Russell Kinsey for more details. Debby Broom is ordering shirts for VBS if you are wanting to order one the cost is $12.00 each and she needs the money by Sunday June 24th. VBS is scheduled for July 16th-20th 6:30pm till 9:00pm. If you are interested in helping in any way teaching or volunteering to help with bus ministry or crafts or any other area please see Debby.
I pray each of you have a blessed week and look for opportunities to tell others about Jesus and His saving grace. Continue to love and pray for one another. God bless.
Charlotte McGuffey, Salem Baptist Church
Sunday was Father’s Day and I was fortunate to have my parents, Jack and Barbara Ensley in services with me. Bro. Tommy selected hymns about fathers and faith, which were a blessing to sing. Bro. Tommy sang a solo called Tools of the Trade which was very appropriate for the day. Bro. Mike brought a good message. Our evening services were canceled to allow everyone to spend time with their fathers and other family.
A Men of Honor men’s event was held at New Liberty Baptist Church on Friday June 15. Mel McGuffey and Jack Ensley enjoyed the barbeque meal and the simulcast from the Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. This was concerning the movie Courageous, which was produced by Sherwood Baptist and challenges men to step up and be the head of their home and to lead and guide their children in Christian principles. Through modern technology, men in many other states were viewing this conference at the same time as our local men. Sherwood Baptist also produced the popular movies Fireproof and Facing the Giant. A lot of lives have been changed by responding to the challenges in these movies.
Continue to pray for Charlie Bates as he recovers from knee surgery. Buck Blevins has gone home from the hospital under hospice care and we pray for peace and comfort for him and the family at this time. Susie McNish is home from the hospital and we hope she will regain strength soon. We also pray for Archie. Others on our prayer list are Brenda Callahan, Haley Stone, Mary Eslinger, Tania Neal, Rev. Wayne Hamrick, a cousin of Mike Teague and others. We extend sympathy to the family of Lula Belle Brown who passed away last week and also to the family of Gregory Pike, son of Greg and step-son of Susan Pike who is Jerry and Margaret Watkins’ daughter.
July is shaping up to be a busy month in our church. Our homecoming will be on July 15, Vacation Bible School will be held July 23 – 27, and our 5th Sunday night singing will be on July 29.
Marshall and Betty Taylor were back in church after vacationing in Ormond Beach, Florida last week. They reported a great time and the rest and relaxation was just what they needed.
Jack and Barbara Ensley were honored with a cookout at the home of Steve and Donna Ensley and family in Lafayette on Saturday night in celebration of both their birthdays.
Pete Ware spent Father’s Day in Greenville, South Carolina with his son Matthew and wife, Jody, and the delights of his life, grandchildren Natalie and Nicholas.
Marie and Lori Massengill and Ernie and Susan Pierce enjoyed attending Riverbend festival several nights.
Those celebrating birthdays this week are Carolyn Lunsford on the 22nd, Barbara Barton on the 23rd, Melba Davidson on the 24th, Marie Massengill on the 26th and Daryl Massengill on the 27th. I hope each of them has a very happy birthday.
Hello to Dale Eslinger and family. I’m sure they are busy at the farm since it’s about time for those good Eslinger tomatoes and other vegetables to come in. There’s nothing better than fresh vegetables especially when they are locally grown. I hope they will be at the Saturday market in Ringgold soon.
Margie Stringer, North Whitfield Baptist
We had a good weekend. The Lord really blessed.
Bro. Stringer brought the morning message and Bro. Heath Morton preached Sunday night. It was really a blessing. We had a new revival quartet. Bro. Stringer and I, Linda Wilson and Nancy Westmoreland. Nancy said it wasn’t too bad since she didn’t know the three songs.
We had a good crowd and a good service for Father’s Day. Bro. Melvin Hooper was the oldest dad, Drew Roberson was the youngest and a visiting man had the most children present. They all received gift cards from Home Depot.
Our revival will be in progress this week beginning at 6:30. Bro. Stringer attended the camp meeting with Bro. James Langston.
I had to go to my heart doctor on Monday. I’m hoping for a good report. I have another appointment on Tuesday with Dr. Hetzel. These are my yearly check-ups.
My boys are doing pretty good right now. Dale got a good report on Tuesday at Piedmont.
Judy Kilby needs your prayers. She is not able to get out any at all. I know she misses church she was always so faithful.
Happy belated birthday wishes to my grandsons, Kyle Stringer on June 1st, Shane on June 16 and my daughter Kathy on June 18th. Brenda Felder the 23rd, Mac Stringer the 24th and Eddie on June 25th.
Continue praying for Polly Dilbeck she’s really suffered through this surgery. Pray for April Warthan she has a pinch nerve in her back and they can’t seem to find the problem with her foot, so she’s having therapy on both.
Tammy Cantrell was taken to the E.R. on Sunday night. Tim Key got a bad report last week. Also, keep praying for Norma and Thurman Headrick, Daisy Quarles, Marie Hale and Pearlie Smith.
Harry and Shirley Roberts are taking a three week vacation to New York to see their relatives.
Emma Jo Davis, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church
We were so thankful that Bro. David was better on Sunday and was able to preach in the morning service. He was sick on Wednesday and was not with us, so Karen Holcomb took the opportunely to go over the plans for our Vacation Bible School with everyone. This will be July 16-20.
I hope all the fathers had a wonderful Father's Day and your family let you know how very much you are loved and appreciated. That is also true of our Heavenly Father that we tell him often how much we love and appreciate Him.
We are always glad to see our visitors in the service especially when they are return visitors.
Billy Mitchell had to be taken to the hospital on Thursday with chest pains. He had an arteriogram on Friday and they found that a stint that had been put in awhile back had collapsed and the blockage was so bad there was a risk of some of that going to his heart when they tried to open it up. He did fine they got the stint in place and the blood flowing and he was able to come home on Sunday morning. Pray for him and Jewel, we missed her in the ladies class on Sunday. Pray for our class as we still need a teacher.
We were very thankful and praise the Lord for the young person that was saved after the service on Wednesday evening. He was one of the youth group that meet in the fellowship hall on Wednesday evening. Thanks to Jill and Heather Flood for their faithfulness to this group of young people.
This Tuesday is our Nursing Home Service at Standifer Place. Bro. David is not going to be able to be there so Tim Bryson is to be with us for this service.
We were saddened to hear of the untimely death of Gregory Pike, the step-grandson of Jerry and Margaret Watkins. He was just 25 years old and was in the army. He was in training to go back overseas in August. Pray for this family.
A family that was with us several years ago the Don Krajesky family, his wife Shirley has pancreatic cancer and has just been given a few weeks to live. Pray for them.
Remember the Peters Family Reunion will be this Saturday in the Fellowship Hall at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church. Bring a covered dish and your recipes for the cookbook
Our Veteran's Appreciation Service will be Sunday evening at 6 pm. We would love to see a church full of veterans with us in this very special service. So tell all your friends that are veterans that we would love to have them in our service to show our appreciation for them and what they mean to us and our country. There will be a meal after the service in the Fellowship Hall.
The Silvey Family reunion will be July 14th at the old nutrition center next to the Fire Hall in Ringgold, that is where it has been the last several years. Hope to see a lot of you there this year. We have lost several family members since last year.
Others on our prayer list are: Ellie Pitts, Lula Petty, Louise Clark, Norma Headrick, Elsie Disheroon, Bernice Orr, Johnny Chapman, Benny Wilson, Edna Allen, Emma Lou Brown, Junior and Ida Land, Kim Owens, Jan Elliott, Susie McNish, our Servicemen and Women, our Missionaries and our Country.
Happy Belated Birthday wishes to Bernice Orr, June 16. Happy Birthday wishes to Betty Pitts, June 22. Charles Black, June 23. Nathan Broome, June 24. Terry Disheroon, June 26. Dimple Potter, June 27.
Thought for today: Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil- it has no point.