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Strength to Stand JANUARY 15-18Leave Friday at 4pm from EC $200 per students (scholarships available if needed)Cost covers 3 days at conference, cabin, and most...

 
 

 

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The Crown
Nov 25, 2020

The Crown

Kelly and I have watched each season of the Netflix series, “The Crown.” I’m sure like many of you we find it intriguing and entertaining. It’s about a life and culture that is foreign to nearly the entire world’s population.

Last week we watched episode seven of season four and learned a disturbing truth about the royal family that hits close to home. Family trees are complicated, but the family tree of the British Royal family is especially complex, but I will try to make this short and get to the point.

King George V (1865-1936) had two sons, Edward (1894-1972) and George (1895-1952). When King George V passed away his eldest son Edward became King Edward VIII but abdicated the throne less than a year after being crowned. Because of the abdication Edward’s brother George became king. George was married to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and they had two daughters Elizabeth and Margaret.

Now this is where the story becomes troubling. Because of the abdication Prince George and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. In this particular episode I learned that the integrity of the bloodline to the crown must be protected at all costs. Queen Elizabeth had two nieces that were mentally disabled and they had three cousins that were disabled as well. To protect the bloodline to the crown these five family members were hospitalized never to have any contact with their family. They were even declared dead in the record books.

Fast forward fifteen years and King George VI has passed away and his daughter, Elizabeth is now Queen Elizabeth II. Many years pass before it is discovered that the five disabled family members are actually alive in a hospital.


Kelly and I have an intellectually disabled son, so this particular episode hits close to home. We were greatly bothered by the attitudes and decisions by the royal family. Now to be fair those same decisions may not be made today, but it is troubling that they were ever made.

It has made me think about my son, Harrison a lot this week. How could I or anyone put a child away, declared dead never to be seen again all to protect the image of the family? Psalm 139 tells us that we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” in the image of God. I have also thought about what God did to protect His bloodline. You see since Adam the bloodline to the Father was tainted by sin, but God in His love for me and you sent His perfect son Jesus to shed HIs blood and restore the integrity of the bloodline to the Father for anyone that would receive Him as Savior.

All life is precious and valuable whether you are like my son Harrison or heir to a monarchy. Romans 8:16-17 tell us, “The spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”

During this Thanksgiving week give thanks to God for all that He has done for you through Jesus. He has adopted you into His family and made you an heir to THE KINGDOM, which is greater than any earthly kingdom.

Ryan

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Hess's Headlines November 2020
Nov 19, 2020
Dear Church,
           
Throughout history there are extremely difficult situations that are heart-wrenching to study; however, in the middle of almost every study of the heartbreaking, you will also find true tales of compassion, heroism, perseverance, and a severe commitment to the good. Perhaps one of the most interesting accounts of this in history is what the Germans named “Weihnachtsfrieden” and the French called “Trêve de Noël”, the English term, Christmas truce. The Christmas truce provided widespread ceasefires along the Western Front of World War I. These troops, accustomed to fighting in some of the cruelest of circumstances of trench warfare, dropped their guard, walked in “no man’s land” and celebrated Christmas together. The diary entries paint the scenes of former enemies walking together, exchanging goods, and singing songs in their own languages, and seeing good in the middle of the darkest of evil. 
 
Another example is in the middle of the cruel and dark institution known as slavery, there arose Harriet Tubman. She became a beacon of hope in desperate times leading many to freedom through the Underground Railroad. In humility she remarked, “It wasn’t me, it was the Lord! I always told Him, ‘I trust to you. I don’t know where to go or what to do, but I expect You to lead me,’ and He always did.” As she led thousands to freedom, her eyes were not on anyone but the Lord. 
 
           
Once, early in the book of Acts, the church grew so fast and had so many new young Christians that some were being neglected and starving. With so many coming to Christ, the work risked stalling with the reports that perhaps Christ-followers would not care for the widows in need. Would Christianity be all talk and no action? Would this new movement come to screeching halt once the word was out that there was so much hope, so much potential, but no follow through? Instead, God raised up faithful men, the first deacons, to care and support those in the distribution of food. From that comes a man named Stephen. Full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit, he serves, he preaches, and he is killed. Suddenly, a great persecution breaks out against the church, scatters the believers, and it seems the church may be stomped out. But God – But God is faithful. Faithful to move, to act, to intervene on behalf of His glory and His people. He raises up Phillip, transforms Saul to Paul, mobilizes Barnabas, and equips young Timothy. On and on, in the face of opposition and persecution, God raises up new beacons of eternal hope to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
 
And here we are – a Pandemic Thanksgiving. An oxymoron, a paradox of sorts, that there would be thanksgiving in the middle of a pandemic. And here is our God, faithful and sure, raising up people to see the good, do the good, and focus on the Lord. Reminding us that “the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7). God is equipping us, He is mobilizing us, and we have the privilege to follow the same pattern of trust of Harriet Tubman, not knowing where to go or what to do, but expecting Him to lead us. And we shall find, He always did. He has already told us, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). It is on this confidence that we stand. We do not know of the pain of World War I, cannot full feel the desperation of those pursuing freedom on the Underground Railroad, but we can know the same peace – for our God does not change, His mercies are new every morning, and it is His peace we know and experience. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27). So, in the middle of a war, there was a picture of peace. In the middle of the most human cruelty, there was a way to freedom, a person leading to freedom. Today, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”  (Colossians 3:15). When you need help being thankful, remember this wisdom from Harriet Tubman, “And I prayed to God to make me strong and able to fight, and that’s what I’ve always prayed for ever since.” May we be found thankful, and fighting the good fight, running the race, and keeping the faith! Happy Thanksgiving! I love you all!
 
In Christ
 
Chad Hess

Our Blog

Religion That God Accepts
Nov 11, 2020
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 (NIV)
 
Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.
Isaiah 1:17 (NIV)
 
These two verses seem to define what drives me as a Believer. My identity is in Christ; my purpose in life is to know, worship, and ultimately glorify Him; my drive comes from these two pieces of scripture. Oh, that I would be found faithful to be pure of the world, to do what is right, to seek justice, and to live my life serving orphans and widows all for God’s glory.
 
Today on Veteran’s Day I am reminded of purpose and drive. I am so thankful for faithful men and women who have given years of their lives to serving our country. I pray for Veterans today, that they would be honored appropriately and that they would know the Lord.
 
As I think about doing what is right, seeking justice, and keeping self from being polluted from the world I recall the turmoil our world is in at present. I pray for self-control that I may be separate from divisive arguments and quarrels that abound online and in person. I pray for a spirit that is quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. I pray now for our church, that we would be found faithful to live with great purpose, purpose that is greater than our preferences, desires, or influence.
 
I pray for families. I am hopeful that all of our Woodmont families would be diligent to seek opportunities to serve others (be it orphans, widows, or your next-door neighbor) during this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Our children, youth, and adults all need character development that causes our character to look like Jesus. Look around because there are many influences that might convince you that there are plenty of good “characters” out there. . . but may we be found to have character shaped by following Jesus.
 
Don’t miss the ways Woodmont is tangibly helping the community this season: Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child (it’s not too late to bring or pack a box, grace period through Sunday), Salvation Army angel giving, Thanksgiving basket gifts, and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering!
 
Joyfully,
 
Hope Murphy

Our Blog

Is Christ the Focus of Your Life?
Nov 04, 2020
Is Christ the Focus of Your Life?
Phil. 3:17-21
 
Who you follow matters. Who you hang out with and surround yourself with matter. What you put in your mind matters. What you focus on matters. What is the focus of your life? What is the focus of those who you follow?
 
Paul tells us here in verses 17-21 that if we want Christ to be our focus then we need to be intentional to take these 3 steps. 1) Follow faithful examples 2) Avoid earthly minded people
3)Live as citizens of heaven.
 
 
1.     FOLLOW FAITHFUL EXAMPLES
What are faithful examples? Do you have any in your life? Are you following them
 
WW “It is essential to receive sound teaching, but we also learn by observing the lives of people who illustrate that sound teaching.” Do you learn better by watching?
Christianity is not just taught, it is caught
 
  • Have you heard the sayings I can show you better than I can tell you, actions speak louder than words, that person is all talk, etc.?
  • How will you know how to pray if someone doesn’t show you?
  • How will you know what a healthy marriage looks like if it is not modelled for you?
  • How will you know how to share the gospel unless you watch someone do it?
  • Find a faithful example and watch them, go with them, and ask them questions
When I was in the Army and we would deploy, we would do this thing we called right seat/left seat ride. The concept behind it was that the incoming unit would ride along with the unit that had been there for a year and observe them as they did their job. The incoming group observing would then take the reins and lead the next week with the outgoing unit observing them and making any corrections needed.
 
  • This is a perfect illustration of how Christians should disciple and follow faithful examples. These faithful examples should rely on the Word of God to guide their lives.
 
2.     AVOID EARTHLY MINDED PEOPLE
In verses 18-19 Paul reminds the Philippians that not everybody is setting the right example
 
  • These people may have appeared to make some sort of profession of Christian faith, but in reality, they oppose the Gospel. They are deceivers and pretenders
 
Paul list 3 characteristics of these people and says, “Their end is destruction”
 
  • a.     “Their god is their stomach”- meaning they serve their lustful appetites. They seek to please self. They make up their own law and do as they please. Instead of living in grateful worship to God, they live as lazy gluttons, pleasing self.
 
  • b.     “Their glory is their shame”- They show off things that they should be ashamed of. They enjoy and celebrate what offends God and should be avoided. Don’t follow the examples of those who glory in things like sexual sin, greed, disrespect, and laziness.
 
Sex before marriage is prevalent and considered normal- it is still shameful. Even though a strip club is called a “Gentlemen’s club”- it is still shameful/ depraved
 
  • c.      “They focus on earthly things”- They just get excited about earthly things. They aren’t interested in Christ, His Cross, or His resurrection. They are the type who prefer everything over hearing from God’s Word. Christians must also fight this temptation to get laxed and start enjoying other things and push Christ aside.
 
Don’t set your mind on earthly things like these people and don’t follow these people.
 

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov. 13:20)

Don’t become a fool by observing and following the ways of foolish people. Find examples of those who are walking the way of the cross and finding a superior joy in knowing Christ more and more.
 
 
3.     LIVE AS CITIZENS OF HEAVEN
Paul closes by reminding the church of the heavenly mind set we should possess. We should know that this world is not our home and we have so much more to look forward to.
 
Philippi was a Roman colony. It was “little Rome”. When people visited Philippi they said, “This reminds me of Rome.”
 
We remember Paul saying something similar in chapter 1. “Conduct yourselves as citizens of Heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ”, Paul is telling the Philippians that church is a little colony of the kingdom of heaven. When you are in the presence of God’s people, their values and their lives should point to heaven.
 
  • You know what Christian means? “Little Christ”
  • We are supposed to look like Christ to other people
 
People should look at the words and deeds of believers and say, “You aren’t from around here are you?” Our citizenship is in Heaven. We are just passing through
 
*C.S. Lewis said this, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next…. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”
 
*We should live with our focus on Christ and the cross
 
Jarod
 

Our Blog

Happy Fall Y'all
Oct 27, 2020
What a beautiful fall season we are enjoying! So often our area has about two weeks of fall and jumps right into winter. But this year we have been blessed with beautiful cooler days, vibrant colors, and an awesome balance of sunshine and rain. My daughter, Andrea, recently told me it occurred to her that the trees are most beautiful just before they “die” or actually appear dead as they become dormant through the winter months. Well, my metaphor loving self started thinking about how this applies to our lives. Of course Ecclesiastes 3:1 came to my mind: “For everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
 
Some of us are in the fall season of our lives. As we grow older, perhaps we don’t feel physically beautiful like the trees, but hopefully we do have wisdom, grace, mercy, and love that have developed and grown from lessons, hardships, and trials throughout earlier seasons of our life.
 
As we grow older, our health status, energy level, and areas of focus change. Along with these may also be changes in areas of ministry. However, does our purpose change? Overall, no! Our purpose has been and always will be to honor and glorify God with our lives, no matter what season of life we are in. The way we carry out that purpose may vary in different seasons of life. Yet as Brother Jarod mentioned in his sermon last Sunday, we can honor Him in the small things. We may be limited in time, energy, finances, health, and have other deficiencies. Nevertheless, we can all, no matter what season we are in, give a smile and a kind word to the frazzled store check-out clerk, send a card or note to a hurting person, say “thank you for your service” to a police officer, military person/veteran or first responder, be an example of faith over fear, and show love to those who feel unlovable. Most important of all, we can PRAY – for our family, friends, leaders, country, military, health professionals and yes, even our enemies.
We can intercede for those who are sick, depressed, full of hatred, fearful, and most importantly, lost.
 
Yes, our fall season can be a beautiful time in our lives when we offer what we have to God for His purpose and His glory. And just like the trees appear dead in winter, one day we will appear dead to those still living. However, that is when we as Christians will be more alive than ever! We will be in the arms of our Heavenly Father, living in an eternally blissful state that we can only imagine! Bur for now, let’s continue our purpose on earth with courage, humility, and faithfulness, whatever season of life we are in. Happy fall, Y’all!!

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