Southside Church Of Christ Blog

Southside is a loving, vigorous, and growing congregation in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Our vision is toward the future: Our Children, Our Ministry, and Our Outreach. Our goal is to embrace all people in our hearts and fellowship as we strive together to support Christ’s mission on earth.

How Do I Help Myself or Others Find Hope?

I do not believe you can actually “give” someone else hope, but you can help them find hope. There must be some level of hope in them and you are helping restore it. If you personally are running low on hope, consider the following ideas.

This is written in hopes that I may learn the answer myself. You may remember in the post on Hope, Kay’s brother took his own life. We did not know he had lost hope but if we had known then how could we have helped Brian? That has haunted me for twenty years.

I also need the answer for volunteer work in which I’m involved. Court Appointed Special Advocate, CASA, works with children who have been placed in State custody because of abuse or abandonment. Most of these children are placed with foster parents and sometimes with relatives. Some of the older children are placed in State custody because they broke the law. These children are often placed in private institutions with lock down facilities. The State has an advocate, an attorney, and the parents sometimes have an attorney who is an advocate for them. Many juvinile court systems, including Tennessee, believe the child should also have an advocate, CASA.

If relatives are an option for the children, then we find out from the child their preference and why. If a foster home is the best option, then we monitor the child in that home. Discussions with the child are about how things are going wherever they are placed, proper behavior, doing their best in school, etc. We also assure they receive social services that are needed such as counseling.

Many times, one or both parents have a drug problem, alcohol dependency and have been in jail or prison. These children have watched mom’s and dad’s life style, so sometimes they tend to walk in their footprints. CASA volunteers are not mentors but at times act in that capacity. In one hundred percent of the cases, the children need HOPE for a brighter future. Very few have a relationship with God or have had any spiritual guidance. When asked if they believe in God the typical answer is “Yea, I guess so!” Although most CASA volunteers if not all of us are believers, we are not to be evangelists. It’s acceptable to let the children know we pray for them, but not to carry it further. I tell my children at every meeting that I’m praying for them and ask if they have any request. They just stare at me. God has very little meaning for them. I’m struggling with helping these children find hope.

One case is very difficult for me. When I first met JD, he was 17 and one of three brothers I was trying to help. He was housed in a lock down facility about one hundred miles from Bedford County. He came into the first meeting in shackles because he had run away so many times. JD was about to be released to foster parents who also housed his brothers. Six months later he ran away. He wound up in Rutherford County in a drug deal gone bad. One man was killed and another one wounded. JD was arrested in January of 2018 with charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and three other felony charges. He’s now been bound over to adult court. JD is claiming self-defense, but it seems no one is buying it including is former attorney. The district attorney is not seeking the death penalty, but his attorney informed me that he believes JD is “looking at many decades in prison”. The visitation at the jail is at a kiosk through a computer screen and the typical phone receiver. Written communication is limited to a page or two and copied to a computer screen for him to read. Any contact is very impersonal. His parents either can’t visit him because of their own prior convictions or choose not to visit. JD has some emotional issues. He’s attempted suicide twice that I’m aware of and has had to fight off inmates on two different occasions that wanted have sex with him.

You may be asking why I’m trying to help a murderer find hope and that’s not an unfair question. Years ago, there would not have been any effort on my part. I believe JD must deal with the legal system and take his punishment! He’s still a child of God and deserves an opportunity to have hope for the future days in prison and hope of salvation. He tells me he’s attending a Bible class every Monday, so I hope he’s finding direction there. Matthew 25:31-46 lays out Jesus’s return to earth and judging our works. One of the works listed in verse 36 is “visiting those in prison”. Some people believe that it only refers to visiting Christians imprisoned because they are Christians. I cannot reconcile that it refers to only Christians.

How do I help a 19-year-old possibly facing 50 years in prison or the child uncertain where his or her future with their parents find hope for daily life? The following are thoughts are from Christian writers.

From the ministerial point of view, Rick Warren believes that being in a small group of Christians is vital to helping others find hope. The prayers of a small group can achieve success with the following characteristics:

  • Compassion from others who are not too preoccupied with their own problems.
  • Faith- In Luke 5:20 a paralytic man’s friends took him up on the roof and let him down so Jesus could heal him. It was the faith of the friends that helped heal him.
  • Willingness to intervene otherwise nothing may take place.
  • Persistence to not give-up
  • Innovative in a willingness to try different methods
  • Cooperation with those who are helping
  • Sacrificing one’s time, money or whatever to make the process work.

It seems this method can be helpful but the person struggling must be a willing active participant by allowing people into their lives. Some people will be willing to share with another individual but not in a group setting.

Dr. Larry Crabb and Dr. Dan B. Allender (I’ll refer to them as the Doctors) are Christians with PhD’s in Psychology. Their book, Hope When You’re Hurting, looks at psychological, medical and spiritual methods of addressing help. The docs say that when we struggle with life, we ask four basic questions:

  • What’s wrong?
  • Who can help?
  • What will the helper do?
  • What can I hope for if I do seek help?

“When we hurt, we ask these questions. And we insist that someone be able to answer them. How we answer those four questions determines what we do and where we go to find help when we hurt.”

The Doctors believe that, “We’re not nearly so bothered by the size of the problem as we are by it’s degree of mystery. It’s not knowing what’s wrong that arouses the worst terror. Mystery scares us because it puts us out of control and leaves us with an option we don’t naturally like---- to trust someone besides ourselves.”

The Doctors suggest six different explanations to what’s wrong:

  • Spiritual warfare – The cause is demonic
  • Dysfunctional background - The cause is psychological
  • Personal sin – The cause is moral
  • Biomedical disorder – The cause is medical
  • Undisciplined living - The cause is weakness
  • Deficient spirituality – The cause is distance from God

The book goes in deep detail about each of these causes. Some of their analysis is too deep for me and there is not enough room to write about it all. If you would like to borrow the book, let me know.

The doctors suggest four resources that may be useful:

  • The individual – Responsibility for change falls largely on the individual’s shoulders
  • Natural community – Support from family, friends, and ministers/elders might help
  • God – The individual must tap into God’s sufficient power. He is all the individual needs.
  • Professional help – Trained professionals may be necessary

They remind us that the way the individual answers the first question determines who we depend on for help.

As I researched helping people find hope, I was though there would be a much simpler answer. The following is what I took away from talks with others and reading.

A Christian man who is involved in prison ministry fulltime encouraged me to let JD know that I’m praying for him. He also believes the more people that write him the more encouraged he will be and hope can grow. An ex-inmate who attends Riverdale Church of Christ in Murfreesboro meets with inmates on a regular basis. Larry advises that JD must take it on his own shoulders for keeping hope. Praying for him and contact with him will help.

With the limited contact CASA volunteers have with the children, letting them know you are praying for them and offering encouragement seem to be the best course of action. Helping them make plans for a brighter future creates hope. They need to know someone cares about them! The power of prayer is not in the person praying but the power is in the one listening, God.

The Bedford County CASA received eight new appointments for families last month but I’m not sure how many children that includes. There aren’t enough volunteers! If you think you might have an interest in helping children through CASA, let me know. You do not have to be professionally trained, just have a heart for children. CASA staff will give you all the training initially and then hands on experience and God’s guidance will take over.

God Bless!

Mike

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HOPE

HOPE

Webster defines hope: Desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment, to expect with confidence. We often use hope as a wish as oppose to an expectation. “I hope everything comes out alright”.

The word for hope in Hebrew in the Old Testament is closely associated with trust. The Greek word in the New Testament is also associated with trust along with eager expectation.

In Max Lucado’s book: God Came Near, he describes hope as: “Hope is not what you expect, it is what you would never dream. Hope is not a granted wish or a favor performed; no, it is far greater than that. It’s a dependence on God who loves you.”

In his book, Hope Again, Charles Swindoll writes: “Hope isn’t merely a nice option that helps us temporarily clear a hurdle. It’s essential to our survival. Hope is a wonderful gift from God, a source of strength and courage in the face of life’s harshest trials. Put simply, when life hurts and dreams fade, nothing helps like hope. Hope plays a vital role in life.”

Mr. Swindoll continues with examples of trials where hope provides strength and courage:

  • When we are trapped in a tunnel of misery, hope points to the light at the end.
  • When we are discouraged, hope lifts our spirits
  • When we struggle with a crippling disease or a lingering illness, hope helps us persevere beyond the pain.
  • When we fear the worst, hope brings reminders that God is still in control.
  • When we must endure the consequences of bad decisions, hope fuels our recovery.
  • When we feel rejected and abandoned, hope reminds us we are not alone…we will make it.
  • When we say our final farewell to someone we love, hope in the life beyond gets us through our grief.

As I thought about his points, the words belief, relationship, trust, and faith kept coming into my mind. In order to have hope, we must believe in God, have a close relationship with him and place total trust and faith in him. But what is the source of hope for people who do not believe in God or have no relationship with him? Their hope is in themselves, other people, natural circumstances in the world, money, other possessions, and technologies like medicine. These play a part in hope but without God behind them, they are without certainty. We experience our own failures, people that we place hope in disappoint us, money and possessions are very uncertain, medicine sometimes fails us. Think about these verses and think about where your hope lies.

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you …...to give you hope and a future

Psalm 42:5 - … Put your hope in God

Psalm 62:5 - …. My hope comes from him

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart…

Romans 12:12 – Be joyful in hope…

Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope….

I Timothy 6:17 - …. not to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain but to put their hope in God

Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is being sure of what we hope form and certain of what we do not see.

God and Christ will always endure as our hope!

We all have hopes for a good life, a wonderful marriage, children and hopes for them, and for successful careers and so on, all earthly hopes. What about eternal hopes? Mr. Swindoll asks: “How can we concern ourselves that much over what happens on this temporary planet when we know that it is all leading us to our eternal destination?” The Bible has several verses that give hope for heaven.

I Ephesians 1:18 - … you may know the hope which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance …

Colossians 1:27 - ……which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Titus 2:13 - … While we wait for the blessed hope---the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ ….

Hebrews 6:19 - … We have this hope as an anchor for the soul….

I Peter:3-5 - … he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

I Peter 3:15 - … …Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone that asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Our lives hold hope for things both on earth and in heaven. What if my hope dims or I lose all hope? We all probably know people who have lost hope. Kay’s youngest brother, Brian, did. From an early age he struggled with what we now believe was bipolar. Brian tended to hear a different drummer. In his early twenties he rode a motorcycle from southern California to Memphis in the dead of winter. He was struggling with his way of life and what he thought Christianity demanded of him, so he was not around the family very much. Later, we found out he was an alcoholic, but when he graduated from the AA program things were looking up. He started working for a casino outside Memphis and soon became a highly respected backroom poker dealer for the rich customers. In the fall of 1998, Brian lost hope and took his own life. As we went through his personal things, we found liquor bottles stashed all over the house and learned from his girlfriend that he had a total relapse. She also informed us that he had a serious gambling problem. Brian could not reconcile his Christian up bringing with his failures and the expectation of others, so he lost hope of living the Christian life.

George Weinberg, psychologist, writes: “Hope never abandons you, you abandon it!”

Mr. Swindoll writes: “Two words will help you when you run low on hope: accept and trust. Accept the mystery of hardship, suffering, misfortune, or mistreatment. Don’t try to understand it or explain it. Accept it. Then, deliberately trust God to protect you by his power from this very moment to the drawing of eternity.”

What actions should I peruse if I or someone I know are struggling with hope?

  • Double down on your prayer life.
  • Pray with trust and expectation that God will recue you.
  • Get a prayer partner who will pray with you and for you with the same trust and expectation.
  • Pray with the elders, James 5:16 tells us the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
  • The first answer therapist and counselors give is to seek professional help. That’s good but do not leave out the first four. Choose a Christian counselor!

The premise of God Came Near is that Jesus is always in our lives especially at our greatest times of need, if we look for him. To paraphrase: Jesus does his best work at moments when we face trials. “Just when the truth about life sinks in, his truth starts to surface. He takes us by the hand and dares us not to sweep the facts under the rug but to confront them with him at our side.”

“Funerals, divorces, illnesses, and stays in the hospital-----you can’t lie about life at such times. Maybe that’s why he’s always present at such moments.”

“The next time you find yourself alone in a dark alley facing the undeniables of life, don’t cover them with a blanket, or ignore them with a nervous grin. Don’t turn up, the TV and pretend they aren’t there. Instead, stand still, whisper his name, and listen. He is nearer than you think.”    

Jesus is near so that’s HOPE!

Thanks!

Mike

Next: How can I help someone find hope?

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Focus on God

My computer would not open last Tuesday so I took it to the Geek Squad at Best Buy. To keep it short, by Saturday the hard driven and flash drive were gone, and everything was lost including all my writings and outlines for the blog. The hard drive was sent off to retrieve what they can. Hopefully, I’ll have it all back in 2-3 weeks so I’m putting together some thoughts to post.

There are many people listed in the bulletin and in the announcements that are experiencing storms of one kind or another in their lives. There are others going through trying times that we do not know about. Extreme illness, death of a loved one, family problems, financial problems, etc. seem to always be with us. We have all been there in our lives. The following is from New CREEations Ministries:

You can be in peace in the middle of whatever storm life throws at you. The key is to keep your focus on God, because he truly is bigger than any storm. Peter was able to walk on the waves in the midst of the storm as long as he focused on Jesus. But when his focus shifted onto the raging sea he began to sink. Make God the center of your attention. Keep your focus on Him. Then you will pass through any storm in perfect peace.

I believe these words but putting them into practice is not always easy for me. Some of the difficulty speaks to my problem of accepting God’s decisions, my faith. This is attributable to satan attacking where he knows I’m weakest. Already troubled, concerned and even worried about the outcome of the storm, satan works at creating doubt by asking why God would let this happen and why he’s not changing it like my request in prayers.

The key is “pass through the storm”. We are not promised that everything will be changed to our satisfaction even though we diligently pray about the storm. The following verses speak to the fact that “God has got our backs”:

I Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

I Peter 5:10 - …. after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious …. And the peace of God…. will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 41:13 – For I am the Lord your God…. Do not fear; I will help you.

Deuteronomy 31:6 – I will never leave you or forsake you.

For me, it comes down to sronger faith. I must trust God’s decisions even though the outcome is not what I prayed for.

How do you cope? Let me know.

Let me know if you need prayers. You’ll be in my prayers every morning. It will be private!

Mike

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Relationship with God

 Early in my career a boss gave me his philosophy of keeping a good relationship with his boss: “Whatever my boss thinks is important, I think is important. “ He practiced that faithfully and of course, he was giving me advice as to how to manage a good relationship with him. Another one of his philosophies was: “If your attitude is good, I can forgive mistakes.” I worked hard making sure that I understood what Bill thought was important and maintaining the right attitude.

I thought a lot about these philosophies in terms of my relationship with God. Generally, your boss has control over your future within that company, so you strive to make him/her happy with your performance. It plays a very important part in pay increases, promotions, benefits, etc. So, I worked to keep the boss happy, BUT did I give the same consideration and effort to my relationship with God? He created me, provides blessings, forgives my sins and decides where I will spend eternity which is far more important! Now that I’m older*, I’m pretty sure God did not get the same effort that Bill did. I went to church and went through the motions of being a Christian, looked the part, but did not give whole heart.

Conversations with folks I’ve known:

Q: How’s your relationship with God?

A: Yes, I believe in God.

Q: That’s great but how’s your relationship?

A: Everything is OK, I guess!

Q: Do you pray, read your Bible, go to church and serve Him to grow your relationship?

A: Well, no but I don’t believe you need all that to keep a good relationship with Him. Afterall, He loves me the way I am.

Q: How’s your relationship with God?

A: To be honest it’s not as good as it once was!

Q: You must have moved away because God didn’t move away from you. What happened?

A: Well, I had the following happen________________. I feel like God let me down!

The blank can be filled in with most any struggle in life we are experiencing now or have experienced. All of us have had our struggles, but we should not use those struggles as the excuse for the lack of our relationship with God.

For any relationship to thrive, attention must be paid to it. Typical answer is: “Yes, but we both are trying to move ahead in our careers, we have two kids and they are involved in school, sports and scouts, etc. I’m also involved with Rotary, Lions club (take your choice) and I’m serving people through them. GOD UNDERSTANDS!”

There is absolutely nothing God does not understand but he is a jealous God and expects to be our number one priority. Let’s see, God came in after careers, kids, school, sports, scouts and a civic club at best! He’s probably disappointed with the relationship!

Max Lucado is the author of On The Anvil. He describes the book as thoughts on being shaped into God’s image. He believes that our relationship with God is like a tool’s relationship with the blacksmith. There are several verses in Bible that refer to us as instruments/tools. Acts 9:15, John 15:16 and Romans 6:15. The best one for me is II Timothy 2:21 “… an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to do any good work”

Max writes: “We are all somewhere in the blacksmith’s shop. We are either on the scrap pile, on the anvil, in the Master’s hands or in the tool chest. (Some of us have been in all three.)”

“Anvil time reminds us of who we are and who God is. We should not try to escape it. God sees our life from beginning to end. He may lead us through a storm at thirty so we can endure a hurricane at age sixty. An instrument is useful only if it’s in the right shape. A dull ax or a bent screwdriver needs attention, and so do we. A good blacksmith keeps his tools in shape. So does God. Should God place you on his anvil, be thankful. It means he thinks you’re still worth reshaping.”

How do I know if I’m on the anvil? Read I Peter 1:6-7

I’m paraphrasing here: Time on God’s anvil clarifies and defines God’s evaluation of our relationship with Him. If you feel you are on the anvil, step back and take time to consider why you are there. I believe that much of our relationship with God is about carrying out His business.

*I do not use the term “elderly” to describe myself. Elderly is for those older than me!?!?

When I led Sunday School classes, its success depended on discussion from the class members. I would like for the blog to be as interactive as possible so please share your ideas and comments @ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Need prayers for yourself or someone else, let me know. Know anyone that needs a short visit to be encouraged let me know.

Thanks

Mike

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From Jeff's Desk

In January our series is titled, Your Faith, Bible Faith. Today, faith in Jesus is the beginning and end of our faith. As the month progresses we will consider Bible pictures of saving faith, the relationship between faith and fruit, and then the distinction between faith and opinion.

All 4 Gospel accounts tell of the feeding of the 5,000 but John tells us the rest of the story. The people return the next day, not finding Jesus they sought him out elsewhere. Jesus knows why they are looking for Him and then makes one of the most astounding statements of your Bible,John 6:26-29, “....the work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” Work is a task, something you do. Jesus says God has done something, you must do something. God’s task was to send His Son. Our task is to believe “in the one” God sent.

God’s greater work is the sending of Jesus into the world. God’s lesser work was sending bread from heaven which fed man for a day. It is easy to want bread for today. Jesus would have us want bread from heaven that does not perish. Read John 6:30-34.

Believing in God’s greater work has eternal implications. To see Jesus is to see God. This is more than believing Jesus is an historical figure. This is realizing He is Lord of heaven and earth. This is to realize He is Lord of your life. Being ruler, He will invade your every decision, and activity, and priority. Believing in Him is realizing that at the “last day”, you will be before Him. Read John 12:42-50.

It is an insult to your intelligence to suggest that you can have a casual, passing faith in Jesus. To believe “in the one” whom “God has sent” reaches every crevice of your life.

Consider the advice old folks give young folks when monumental life decisions are being made. We advise they consider how this decision will affect the rest of their life. If marriage is under consideration we might remind them how from that moment on, all decisions must be made with the family in mind. It will not be “his” and “hers”, it will be“ours”. We might speak of the beauty of mutual submission to each other and the horror of marrying someone not worth submitting to. Should anyone believe in Jesus without similar forethought?

To believe in the one God sent has greater implications than any other life decision we make. Belief in Jesus has eternal consequence beyond this life. Believing should not be entered into lightly. Belief in the one God sent is the greatest, heaviest, most profound decision of our life. If you believe the one whom God has sent, confession of faith, repentance, and baptism into Christ is soon to follow. But get ready, some real life changes are about to follow.

It is good to be at Southside!!!

Jeff W. Smith

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From Jeff's Desk

In heaven and on earth, Mary, the virgin chosen by God to be with child of the Holy Spirit, is honored. Listen to the language of Scripture, “you are highly favored, the Lord is with you”, “you have found favor with God”, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!”, “my spirit rejoices in God....for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me.” Read Luke 1:26-49. Once, after Jesus had been accused of working with Satan, a woman in the crowd cried out, “blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you”. Read Luke 11:27-28.

We should have no problem honoring Mary. The scriptures do. Joseph, Elizabeth, the angels, the shepherds, the wise men, Simeon and Anna all honored Mary. Even an unknown woman in a crowd honored Mary. Jesus honored his mom as all sons should, John 19:25-27.

John Cardinal Gibbons, a Catholic priest explains why the Catholic Church honors her so highly. In the General Council of Ephesus in 435, an official “Mother of God” title was given her. Beyond that, Catholic tradition concludes that Mary had no “original sin”, that she was a perpetual virgin, and that as a Saint, she can be prayed to and through. That of course is too much honor and far beyond Bible teaching.

In thinking about Mary, the emphasis remains on the Son. He is the only mediator between God and man. Jesus is the “way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. John 14:6-14 & I Timothy 2:15.

In thinking about Mary, I would ask you to think about how God uses earthen vessels for his purpose on earth. Yes, she found favor and was used by God very much. Some do not seek the favor of God, and are used very little. The Son and the Gospel of the Son both employ earthen “human” vessels in fulfilling God’s purpose on earth.

I should be seeking God, so that God can use me. Another virgin to bring another Son is not in the mind of God now. You might say, God has been there, done that. But do not minimize God use of earthen vessels like Mary, or even you. As an earthen vessel you can be used for God’s purpose in astounding ways. Mary was chosen, you are chosen. Mary was honored that God worked through her, you can be so honored.

2019 is almost here. In all your reflections, I suggest you make your life ready before God to be used by God for God’s glorious purpose in 2019. God’s work in your life might not be as advertised as was Mary’s, but God can and will use you if you will honor Him.

It is good to be at Southside!!!

Jeff W. Smith

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From Jeff's Desk

King Ahaz has watched Israel fall. He wonders the fate of
Judah. Syria is on the rise and coming his way. He fears asking
God for a sign about the fate of Judah. Isaiah the prophet says, God
will give a sign. This sign may have meant little in days of Ahaz,
but to us, who know the rest of the story, it is prophetic and
comforting. It clarifies that God keeps His promise. God protects.
God saves. God will live among us. Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the
Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and
will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
The virgin birth explains much about the nature of Christ. It
explains His eternal existence, even before he became flesh, John
1:1-5. It explains His equality with God and the humility of “taking
on the form of a servant.”, Philippians 2:5-8. The virgin birth
explains how Christ is creator, with all authority, Colossians
1:15-20. It explains how Christ is the exact representation of God’s
being and that He speaks to us today, Hebrews 1:1-5.
Paul Harvey tells a story of how a farmer, on a cold winter
night tried to herd some small sparrows into the warmth of his
barn. The birds would not even come near. The farmer was alien
to them. They could not understand that he was trying to do them
good, and not harm. The farmer realized that only one of their own
kind could lead them, communicate to them, and help them. It is a
monumental message from God when Christ became flesh.
Without the virgin birth, like Moses, we cannot even look at
God. Without the virgin birth we tremble because the mountain
shakes, the fire consumes, and the loud voice is deafening. Read
Exodus 20:18-23 & Hebrews 12:14-29
Christ, born of a Virgin is one of God’s greatest designs. No
man could think this up. Only our God would be so desirous of
relating to us that He became one of us. God became flesh,
therefore we love Him, praise Him, and serve Him!
So, Ahaz, do you want a sign? Here’s your sign, “...the virgin
will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him
Immanuel.” The virgin birth of Christ explains much about our
Wonderful Father in Heaven!!!

It is good to be at Southside!!!

Jeff Smith

 

Published on: December 23, 2018

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Christmas Caroling

On December 9th, 2018 we will go Christmas Caroling to the Nursing home and the shut-ins. There will be no Bible classes and we encourage all to participate.

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Thanks-Singing

Thanks-Singing @ Southside on November 18, 2018 at 6pm. Everybody will meet in the auditorium. Songs, Scriptures, and stories of Thanksgiving. Make sure to invite a friend or two.

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GREAT NEWS!

We are happy to announce that Austin Harden and his friend, Blaise Presley were baptized Friday, July 6th, 2018 at Camp Joy.

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Youth News

Youth News!

  • Please let Matt Ledbetter or I know if you would like to host a devotional this fall for the 5th grade and under group, as well as the Middle/High School group. We would like to have for each group, for each month, this fall.

  • Family Retreat at Lynchburg.

  • Please keep in prayer all of our Bible Bowl participants.

  • Our Bedford County Bible Camp will be June 25 – 30!

These dates are directly related to the school dates of the county participating in the first week of camp. These dates may change if snow make up days are added to their school calendar.

We need to start now on preparation, on invitation, and supplication for this blessed event. If you would like to help with this work then let Matt or I know.

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From Jeff’s Desk

From Jeff’s Desk….

     Today we begin a new series about fundamental facts we must not     forget. I remember hearing Alan Highers say in effect that sometimes we teach error by failing to teach truth. You don’t have to preach error, just start ignoring the truth on a given subject, and error takes over. I do not assume the hearers in my midst know some of the fundamental facts we will discuss. If you know them, congratulations, this is a refresher course.

     Our text today is II Corinthians 4:1-7. The thing I want you to see is that God’s greatest treasure, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is placed in earthen vessels like you and me. The NIV uses the phrase, “jars of clay”.

     First, I wonder if I would entrust to you my greatest treasure. As a teenager, I was hesitant to let even my best friend borrow my car. I had suffered to buy that thing and feared losing it. One friend was offended when I refused his request. Meanwhile, God’s greatest treasure, the     treasure He sacrificed to obtain, is placed in the hands of “earthen vessels” like you and me. How unsearchable are His judgments!

     God uses earthen vessels in conversions to Christ. In Acts 2 the Spirit is present in a glorious way but God used Peter, an “earthen vessel” to preach the Gospel. In Acts 8 an angel was well aware of the Ethiopian Eunuch searching for truth but that angel called Philip, an earthen vessel, to share the story of Jesus. Acts 9 tells of Saul’s conversion. Beyond the flash of light and the voice of our Lord, God sent Ananias, an earthen vessel to instruct Saul further. The same with Cornelius in Acts 10. God could have used angels, visions, or some direct operation of His Spirit to share the treasure with Cornelius. He used Peter, an earthen vessel.

     Jesus confirms God’s use of earthen vessels to carry the treasure of the Gospel. You are the light of the world, let it shine he says in Matthew 5:14-16. Go preach and teach and teach them again he says in Matthew 28:16-20. He even speaks of the Counselor who will prepare his disciples to testify about him, John 15:26-27. I’ve always loved that Jesus prayed for we who believe on him through their message, John 17:20.

     Sometimes, people are still awaiting some fantastic working of God’s power before they will believe and obey the Gospel. Meanwhile, in our midst, God has placed a “treasure” in “earthen vessels” like you and me. Are you carrying that treasure well?

     You are probably thinking, that was them, not me. They were good earthen vessels with great treasure, not me, “I’m too earthy”. That’s the point of the whole matter. You are no more “earthy” than Peter, Ananias, or Paul and the treasure has not diminished one bit. As an earthen vessel with a treasure inside you are obligated to carry the treasure well. Are you???

It is good to be at Southside!!!

Jeff W. Smith

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From Jeff’s Desk

From Jeff’s Desk….       Our earthly Fathers love us.  They desire good things for our life.  They would never act to do us harm.  But their love is contractual.  There is something in it for them.  Children bring fulfillment in a father’s life, they bring him joy, and they care for him in his old age.         God’s love is like our earthly father’s love.  He desires to give me good things in life, Matthew 7:7-12.  The Bible is full of convincing     pictures of God’s love.  He runs to greet a fallen son, Luke 15.  He made mankind His crowning act of creation, Genesis 1,2 ; Psalms 8.  His arm is long enough to save us, Isaiah 59.        A father’s love is good, God’s love is better.  God’s love is          Covenant Love.  Covenant Love has characteristics so much better than contractual love.  You can spend a lifetime praying to “grasp” the Heavenly Father’s love, Ephesians 3:14-21.  In God’s love there is no condemnation, Romans 8:1-4.  There is life and peace, Romans 8:5-8.  One lives because of His righteousness, Romans 8:9-11.  Covenant love cannot be moved, it cannot be shaken, and it makes us more than conquerors, Romans 8:31-39.        If you want a picture of the frustration of living by the “sinful     nature” read Romans 7.  If you want a picture of living in God’s love, read Romans 8. Which chapter describes you?             In this life, the only unmerited, unmovable, total love I can           experience is God’s love.  God loves me regardless of my loving Him.  God is not dependent on me loving Him, I am dependent on His loving me.  Nothing can remove His love from me.         The reality of God’s love is this, there is nothing I can do to make Him love me more, and there is nothing I can do to make him love me less.  Christian’s who doubt salvation, doubt God’s love.  Christians who immediately conclude God punishes them for sin, forget that Christ was punished for our sin.  Christians who think they are saved by how they feel, or what they know, or what they do, are minimizing God’s love and     maximizing man’s futile efforts to be saved.         To become convinced of God’s love is to have the greatest            motivation for Christian living in this “sin fallen” world.  Some     Christians, in doubting God’s love, live in doubt and fear when they could live in victory and peace.   How are you doing believing in God’s love in your life?     It is good to be at Southside!!!  Jeff W.  Smith

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From Jeff's Desk

From Jeff’s Desk…..

     To be convinced of God’s love, I must come to terms with God’s long arm which provides salvation for fallen man. God did not quit   loving mankind upon man’s rebellion against God. Rather, He acted so that all might be saved. David reflects upon God’s creation and man’s lowly estate, “what is man that you are mindful of him…..?”, Psalms 8.

     The fall of mankind is the source of our troubles. When God made it, it was good. Man’s rebellion against God produced the fall and the   consequence of the fall. When the thoughts of man’s “heart” was evil all the time, God used the flood as a cleanser to start again. When man was determined to honor man and not God, God scattered man and confused the language. Read Genesis 1:31 ; 2:4-7 ; 3:14-19 ; 6:5-8 ; 11:1-9. The   consequence of sin still reigns in the world. Man’s mortality is             self-evident. Creation scientists are convinced our weather patterns are still effected by the consequence of the flood. Our language is still “confused”. But, over it all and through it all God determined to provide salvation in Christ. Read John 3:16-21 ; Romans 5:6-8 ; I John 4:10 ; II Peter 3:9.

Take a think on some great Bible passages:

     First, consider that there was no mercy, no scheme of redemption for angels who sinned. Read II Peter 2:4 ; Jude 6 & Hebrews 2:14-18. It is not angels that God helps, but Abraham’s descendants! That includes you and me.

    

     Second, consider Isaiah 59:1-20. Upon declaring the gravity of     Israel’s sin and its consequence, two great statements are made. First, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” This condition is observable in creation. Second, look close at Isaiah59: 20, “the Redeemer will come”. Come, He did in the person of Jesus Christ. It is no surprise that the creation “groans” while awaiting our “adoption as sons, the     redemption of our bodies”. Read Romans 8:22-23.

    

     Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.BUT, that is not God’s fault! God “so loved”, God “sent”, God “is not willing that any should perish”, God reveals “truth” by sending “light”. Anybody who doubts or denies the love of God, has not read or does not believe the truth of God’s word. You should be convinced of God’s love because He has a long arm of salvation, and uses it!

It is good to be at Southside!!!

Jeff W. Smith

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From Jeff’s Desk

From Jeff’s Desk….

     We can be convinced of God’s love by acknowledging the fact that mankind is God’s crowning act of creation. God gave us the power of freewill, therefore, we can choose to honor our Creator, or not. Our       intelligent mind cannot ignore the observable reality that mankind is far superior to all other living things.

     Read Genesis 1:26-31. Mankind was fashioned in the spiritual,       rational, emotional, and the volitional image of God. Volitional is our power of choice, our freewill. We are not made in God’s physical image, God is spirit. In a tragic episode at the Cincinnati Zoo last week, Zoo   officials realized the life of a child was of greater value than that of an endangered lowland “grey-back” gorilla. This decision had to made quick. Did they learn the value of human life from the Bible or just     observe that in nature? I would to God that all humans would choose to glorify God in our daily existence. Many do not. Read Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. Note the purpose of mankind given in the Genesis text. To “fill the earth”, we have. To “subdue it”, we have. To “rule over”, to the extent we can, we have. It seems easy for me to distinguish between the chirp of a bird or the moo of a cow, and the reasoned and formed       communication of man. Mankind’s role in the universe testifies to God’s love.

  

     Read Psalms 139:1-18. The fact that we cannot escape the presence of our creator should comfort the righteous and scare the unrighteous. I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” is almost an understatement when one considers DNA, the coded information that is found in every cell of your body. The Bible says life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11) and   everything we know about our circulatory system reveals how true this is. Imagine the blood in your body. It processes oxygen from your lungs and delivers it to every part. It brings back waste products to just the right place to be disposed of. The process is performed over and over and over again. Your blood includes 20 different clotting factors that offer repair when the system is interrupted. If one of 3 billion complex DNA “words” is out of position, you can have serious abnormalities. If one clotting   factor is out of sequence you can bleed to death, or have a life threatening condition with a clot in your brain or lung. God balanced all systems just right so you can live in this universe.

  

     If you doubt God’s love, consider your humanity! Look around and observe the exalted position of man in the universe. God created man with purpose, design, and intellect. In all that is observable, we begin to realize God’s love.

  

   It is good to be at Southside!!!

Jeff W. Smith    

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From Jeff's Desk

From Jeff’s Desk…..

     Memorial day is a fitting tribute to soldiers who have died on the battlefield for our freedom. What began as “decoration day” in 1866 has evolved to honor all soldiers from all wars who gave their life for our   freedom. Without a “Memorial Day”, we might forget.

     King David would not let the people forget what God had done.             As the ark is moved into Jerusalem David leads the people in a psalm of memory and praise. Read I Chronicles 16:1-36 & Psalms 105:1-15.

     The Old Testament is full of memorials. The Passover was a special memorial so that when their children inquired, the story of God’s           deliverance could be told, Exodus 12. That 12 Stone memorial in     Joshua 4:1-7 was there to remind them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off as they entered the land. Samuel raised a stone, an “Ebenezer”.       This was a stone which said, “thus far, the Lord has helped us”, I Samuel 7:12-13. The Feast of Purim celebrated God’s deliverance of the Jews from destruction. Mordecai and Esther were used together, Esther 9:18-23.

     There are great New Testament Memorials. One woman broke open a box of very expensive perfume and anointed the body of Jesus.           The disciples thought it a waste of good perfume, Jesus said it was a                               memorial to her (and Him) whenever the Gospel is preached, Matthew 26:6-13. Every time we read or preach this story, the prophesy of Jesus is fulfilled. Later in that same chapter there is that feast of celebration, the Lord’s Supper is established. The bread and the cup memorialize the body and blood given by Christ to redeem us from sin. Read Matthew 26:26-30 & I Corinthians 11:23-36.

     We need memorials because people are forgetful. God blesses us continually, then one day something doesn’t go to suit us, and we doubt God’s love. Remembering what God has done, especially to save us, is very necessary. Would any among us say to God, “What have you done for me lately?” Christians should never put God to the test. Those habits of prayer and Bible Study, and assembling are great ways to never forget what God has done.

  

     It is good to remember good soldiers who gave their last full     measure of devotion for our freedom. It is better to continually         remember God’s gift to us in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ our Lord. Christians are in a constant state of memorial.                         Remembering God’s love will convince you of God’s love.

It is good to be at Southside!!!

Jeff W. Smith

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Short Mountain

Special Message from Chris!!

2016 Southside Youth Camp at Short Mountain!

Attention All Campers and Overnight Helpers!!!

The time to sign up for camp is now! If you are going to camp you must register soon. To do so please go online to shortmountaincamp.org. Go to the click "here" to register. You will have to create a one time log in, then you may register.

A $25 deposit will be required when registering. If you need any help registering then ask your child, or contact Chris and we will get you in

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A Thanks

I'm proud of the guys who participated in the Youth Assembly Sunday night! They did an awesome job! Thanks for everyone who came out and supported them!

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Special Message from Chris!!

Special Message from Chris!!

Youth Camp at Short Mountain

The time to sign up for camp is now! If you are going to camp you must register soon. To do so please go online to http://www.shortmountaincamp.org. Go to the click "here" to register. You will have to create a one time log in, then you may register. A $25 deposit will be required when registering. If you need any help registering then ask your child, or contact Chris and we will get you in.

 
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From Jeff’s Desk

From Jeff’s Desk……

     Dr. Kevin Leman produced a great book titled, “The Birth   Order Book”, “why you are the way you are”. His study has interesting application for the older and younger brother in Luke 15:11-31. The firstborn is the only one to receive the undivided     attention of the parents for a period of time. The oldest born is usually better organized, a higher achiever, and often more self-reliant than the younger born. Some firstborns react with indignation towards the parental attention given their siblings.

     In the story of Jesus the younger brother pursues a life of self-discovery. In his quest to find fulfillment it didn’t matter who got hurt, until it was him. Then he appreciates his father’s love.

  

     The older brother on the other hand pursues a life of moral           conformity. He evaluates himself as a good fellow and demonstrates     resentment toward the reckless behavior of his kid brother which led to a demonstration of the father’s love. . The older brother is convinced he   deserves his father’s love. He deserved that love first, he deserves it more. Grace is absent from his thinking.

  

     Some older brother must have named this story “The Prodigal Son”. It should be named “A Father’s love”. The father loved both boys. One said “I wish you were dead, give me my share”. The other one who said “I will not join the party”, “I deserve better than him”, “Why don’t you love me?”.

     Actually, the father sought both boys. One he looked and longed for actually running toward him. The other, he left the party and went out to plead with him.   One son underestimated grace by thinking he could be as a hired hand. The other determined that grace wasn’t fair, he preferred the merit plan. Both boys were wrong.

     What do all older brothers need to know?1)God reaches out to you too! Read Philippians 2:6-8. The extreme God went to demonstrate His love for us cannot be ignored. 2)Our Father’s house is full of grace right now. Bible obedience is not merit, it is faith. Read Romans 4:2-12. Justice is fair, grace is not. 3)Everything the Father has is yours, right now. Would you minimize the scope of those blessings because it rains on the day of your picnic or because God is gracious toward someone you deem less worthy?

     We can be convinced of God’s love if we would read familiar         passages more carefully.  

It is good to be at Southside!!!

Jeff W. Smith

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