“Don't be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—because I am GOD, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” Isaiah 43:1b-4 (MSG)
The central message of the Bible is Emmanuel—God is with us! If anything in the Bible is true, then it is a fact that God is with YOU. God is with ME. God is with every daughter or son He’s called into existence by love. The entirety of the Bible—all 66 Books—tells one story. It is the story of God and us.
Sisters and brothers, I know your heart deeply grieves with mine over the senseless deaths of George Floyd and Breann Leath and so many others. When tragedy strikes, we always want to know the “why.” Well, the why in this case is that Satan is alive and busy. No person is created “bad.” People choose to behave that way. Just as we all have a choice in who or what to follow every moment of our lives. It is a horrible reality that some just plain choose the path of hate and destruction—usually as a way to work out the “bad” that has happened to them, and so they work to impart pain unto others. Pain always finds a way to work its way out into life.
What happened to Mr. George Floyd should NEVER happen to ANYONE. No one deserves to die in such a senseless, such a mindless, way. And not for one moment should any of us accept it. As I am confident you and I are of one mind in this: I do not accept it. I will never accept it. However, I am not angry. Rather, I am truly heartbroken. I am filled with profound sadness. I am sad over the gutless treatment Mr. Floyd received—that no one knew when “enough was enough.” I am sad that a police officer felt he had absolutely power over another human being. I am sad that three other officers either didn’t pay attention or were complicitis. I am sad that the VAST majority of police offers, who work honorably putting their lives on the line every day for the rest of us are now cast in such a horribly inaccurate light with so many.
George Floyd was no “choir boy” and neither am I. I don’t for a minute pretend to know what it is like to live in our world as a black man. I can however, know that the same God who made me, made him, and that God loves us both equally and without measure. That God also made the officer who, at least for a few horrible minutes, forgot what a human life is really worth. I am sad. But then what now?
We do what God’s people have done for more than 6,000 years. We pray. We make a difference in every way we can. We change what’s wrong with a power much more profound than hate. We change the world with REAL love. And that kind of love only comes from God who loves the world so much that He gave His only Son, not that we should perish, but so that we (you, me, and all the George Floyds and Breann Leaths of the world) would have life—real life—here and into eternity.
Friends, real love changes everything. A single man hanging on a cross proved it.
Pastor Rusty <><
1. For the past three weeks, leadership and staff have been working on a comprehensive re-open plan for beginning in-person worship again. The plan and start date, and MUCH more information should be ready to share next week. So stay tuned!
2. This week we received news that the National Guard will be assigned to the pantry until July 31! We are so grateful for their service. The Guard really appreciates Old Bethel’s hospitality. Your donations of snacks has been overwhelming. Thank you! We are now planning Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday lunches for the Guard through July 31. As we move toward resuming in-person worship, the church staff who have been coordinating, preparing, serving and cleaning up the meals, will need to return to their regular duties.
We are looking for members of our church family to help with the National Guard lunches. If you feel comfortable being out, we are looking for people to come to the church to prepare food or pick up takeout food, serve the soldiers and clean up after the meal. This may be done in different ways outlined in an email message sent earlier this week. You may choose to donate a meal you serve or you may choose prepare or pick up/serve/clean for a meal provided by the monetary donations we’ve received to Help the Helpers. We need to know of your availability to serve by June 15. You may contact Lynda Preston for details and to sign up for a date.
3. The Message Notes for this Sunday are below.
June 7, 2020: In Essentials, Unity!
A church without a __________ is soon out of _________________!
Paul’s seven steps to church harmony:
H ________ _______ judgment on disputable matters.
“Accept Christians who are weak in faith, and don't argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.” Romans 14:1 (NLT)
A disputable matter is one where the _________ isn’t __________.
A ___________ __________ down on those who don’t share my _________________.
“For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won't…Who are you to condemn God's servants? They are responsible to the Lord…” Romans 14:2-4a
R _____________ that I _______ for The ________ alone.
“For we are not our own masters when we live or when we die. While we live, we live to please the Lord. And when we die, we go to be with the Lord. So in life and in death, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose, so that he might be Lord of those who are alive and of those who have died.” Romans 14:7-9
M _________ ___________ I don’t put _____________ in the way of __________.
“Don't condemn each other anymore. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not put an obstacle in another Christian's path. If another Christian is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don't let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans14:13, 15, 17 (NLT)
The ______________ of our lives is often determined by the size of the ______________ we have had to overcome.
O _________ do what leads to ___________.
“So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. Don't tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, there is nothing wrong with these things in themselves. But it is wrong to eat anything if it makes another person stumble.” Romans 14:19-20 (NLT)
N ___________ _______________ my personal ______________.
“You may have the faith to believe that there is nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God.” Romans 14:22a (NLT)
Y _________ personal _____________ for the common _________.
“We may know that these things make no difference, but we cannot just go ahead and do them to please ourselves. We must be considerate of the doubts and fears of those who think these things are wrong. We should please others. If we do what helps them, we will build them up in the Lord. [So] may God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other—each with the attitude of Christ Jesus toward the other.” Romans 15:1-2, 5 (NLT)
“In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, freedom. In all things, __________.”