Spiritual Pictures

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God  (1 Corinthians 2.11).

There’s a problem understanding spiritual things with a mind orientated to thinking in physical terms. After all, we live in a world of matter, time, and decay. How do we describe the beauty of heaven, the horror of hell, or the wonder of salvation in physical terms? It seems almost impossible. Yet God, who fully understands our limitations, draws on human experiences and physical reality to describe spiritual things.

The Bible is filled with “spiritual pictures” drawn in language and terms we can understand. By looking at these pictures our spiritual awareness is quickened and our spiritual nature is aroused.

Think of the prodigal son, the pearl of great price, or the tree of life. Each one reveals a facet of great spiritual truth. No single picture reveals it all, but each contributes to the whole revelation until we eventually stand awed by the complete painting.

Some words in the New Testament are pictures themselves – atonement, forgiveness, justification, redemption, reconciliation. Each word draws on examples from the Bible or human experience to shed more light on the wonder of salvation.

Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him (John 1.18).

To reveal Himself to us God entered the physical realm through Jesus Christ. He did so visibly, powerfully, and dramatically. In Jesus, God says, “I’ll draw a picture for you so you can see what I’m like” – Immanuel, God with us!

 

The Back Page 12-10-2017

In Our Prayers

Jacquie Grams was hospitalized early this week because of dehydration caused by stomach flu. She is at home now, but Bob suggests no visitors.

Also continue to pray for Fern Smith and Lois Silvester as well as Mildred Meyers, Sue Jackson, and Harold Brunswick in nursing homes.

On the Calendar

Today – Potluck, with men’s business meeting to follow.

Friday, December 15 – White Elephant party hosted by Don and Norma Hamm, 5:30 p.m. Bring snacks and a wrapped or bagged gift with no tag for the White Elephant gift exchange.

December 25. Eagles Club Christmas Dinner. The Ministerial Association is requesting the following food from Westside: 2 salads (each enough for 20 people), 4 pies, and 2 dressings. Phone J.R. Kline at 883-4029 for more info. Needed at Eagles Club by 10 am Christmas.

Thursday, January 18 – Women’s Bible study will resume with a study of the epistle of James. 10:45 to noon, Sunset Apartments.

Save the Date! Saturday, May 19, 2018. Doors of Opportunity and Bible Teacher’s Workshop, hosted by York College.

 

“…my soul thirsts for Thee…” (Psalm 63.1)

Absalom was the third son of King David. Here is how the Bible describes him: “Now in all Israel was no one as handsome as Absalom, so highly praised; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no defect in him” (2 Samuel 14.25).

He not only was handsome, he was the darling of his father. But he repaid his father’s favoritism by leading a rebellion against him. Absalom “stole” the hearts of the men of Israel, and David had to flee Jerusalem for his life into the wilderness of Judea beyond the Jordan.

It was during those agonizing days, at war with his own son, that he wrote of his longing for God. Psalm 63 opens with these words, “O God, Thou art my God, early will I seek Thee, my soul thirsts for Thee; my flesh faints for Thee, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

Regardless of how desperate his circumstances appeared to be, David took refuge in God’s abiding presence. “For Thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy” (Psalm 63.7).

The psalm reminds us as well of God’s presence, of His promise to “be with us always” and of the risen Christ’s presence amid His saints. And so, as pilgrims in a parched land we seek and thirst and faint for Him to provide for us the refreshing relief of living water.

Grace to you all, and peace – Bill

 

The Back Page 12-3-2017

In Our Prayers

Fern Smith will undergo a PET scan this week to help diagnose a spot on her lungs….Doctors have discovered via blood tests that Lois Silvester has some cancer, but they haven’t determined where.

Mildred Meyers, Sue Jackson, and Harold Brunswick in nursing homes.

On the Calendar

Today, December 3 Secret Sister Revealing Party, 1:30 p.m. in Deb Bartlett’s home, with sock exchange.

Sunday, December 10 – Potluck, with men’s business meeting to follow.

Friday, December 15 – White Elephant party hosted by Don and Norma Hamm, 5:30 p.m. Bring hors d’oeuvres or snacks and a wrapped or bagged gift with no tag for the White Elephant gift exchange.

Thursday, January 18 – Women’s Bible study will resume with a study of the epistle of James. 10:45 to noon, Sunset Apartments.

 

“I thank my God…”

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…”
(Philippians 1.3).

Paul had a special relationship with the church in Philippi. It was the first church ever planted on “European” soil. Paul had been beaten there and thrown in jail. Guess what? He converted his jailor. That’s how the church in Philippi began.

Throughout the rest of his life and mission travels, the Christians in Philippi supported him financially and attended to his needs as best they could. Imprisoned again for the cause of Christ, it was from imprisonment in Rome that Paul wrote,

“I thank my God… Thankfulness is an essential Christian trait. Hearts filled with gratitude have no room for bitterness. A cheerful face and kind word will brighten anyone’s day; that’s what thankful people do.

“in all my remembrance… God did us a great favor when He created us with a memory. I picture Paul under arrest, chained to his guards – hours and days on end. Without memory, that would be unbearable. It would be like (though entirely different) being in the hospital with IVs running in both arms and electronic monitoring devices all over your body making it hard to move. How do you pass the time? One way is by thinking of your family and friends. Memory is good company.

“of you…” Relationships lay at the core of life. We need each other. Friendship blossoms in adversity. When “we” are helpless, it’s “you” who step up. “You” are a great blessing to another’s life.

Indeed, like Paul, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.”

Grace to you and peace, Bill

 

The Back Page 11-26-2017

In Our Prayers

Fern Smith, recovering from her last chemotherapy treatment.

Mildred Meyers, Sue Jackson, and Harold Brunswick in nursing homes.

The Family of Karen Stapleton, valued and loved member of the women’s Bible study, who died suddenly of a heart attack Thanksgiving morning. Her funeral will be Wednesday at Hamlet Union Church, 411 Breeze Street, at 10:30 a.m. Central time. Visitation is Tuesday from 2 to 6 p.m. at Liewer Funeral Home in Wauneta.

 On the Calendar

Thursday, November 30 – Last Women’s Bible study of the year – 2 Timothy 4. 10:45 am to Noon, Sunset Apartments.

Sunday, December 3 Secret Sister Revealing Party, 1:30 p.m. at the church building, with sock exchange.

Sunday, December 10 – Potluck, with men’s business meeting to follow.

Friday, December 15 – White Elephant party hosted by Don and Norma Hamm, 5:30 p.m. Bring hors d’oeuvres or snacks and a wrapped or bagged gift with no tag – for the White Elephant gift exchange.

 

Four Marks of a Living Church

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2.42-47)

At the conclusion of Acts 2, Luke gives four identifying characteristics of a “living church” – evidence the first Christians were drawn together in relationships.

First, they were related to the apostles. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. They sat at their feet and submitted to their authority. A living church is an apostolic church, committed to believing and obeying the teaching of the apostles.

Second, they were related to each other. They devoted themselves to fellowship. They loved each other. They looked after each other, providing for one another’s needs. A living church is a caring church.

Third, they were related to God. They worshipped God in the breaking of bread and prayers, formally and informally, with joy and reverence.

Fourth, they were related to the world. They saturated the community around them with the message of the Gospel and as a result “the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” A living church is an evangelizing church.

John Stott relates an experience he had in Latin America. He was introduced to a group of Christian students who had dropped out of church. They called themselves Cristianos Descolgados, “unhooked Christians.” They visited every church in their city and had been unable to find what they were seeking. And what was that? Without knowing Luke’s “four marks,” they were looking for a church in which

  1. the Bible was taught
  2. there was a loving, caring fellowship
  3. there was sincere, humble, and reverent worship
  4. there was a compassionate outreach to the world outside.

Simple characteristics identifying the church of Christ that was established on the Day of Pentecost when the Gospel of Christ was preached for the first time. Let that be our sole model – and pray those four marks of a living church reflect our fellowship at Westside.

 – grace and peace to you all, Bill

[John Stott, Through the Bible – Through the Year, 312]

 

The Back Page 11-05-2017

In Our Prayers

Fern Smith, Jacquie’s mom…Mildred Meyers, Sue Jackson, and Harold Brunswick in nursing homes….Carol’s niece Valerie Croft.

On the Calendar

Thursday, November 9 – Women’s Bible study will finish 2 Timothy 2 and begin chapter 3. 10:45 am to Noon, Sunset Apartments.

Thursday, November 9 – Grief Support group, 7-8:30 pm, Imperial Library.

Next Sunday, November 12 – Potluck dinner followed by Men’s Business Meeting. Also a good time for the women to meet to discuss leftover clothing giveaway and email from Linda Thomas. (Cheryl has copies.)

 

Beer & Brats after Church – Everyone’s Invited

The local Lutheran Church is hosting a “Traditional Oktoberfest” today following their morning worship services. Complete with an outdoor tent, there’ll be “German music, Brats & Beer!” Hot dogs and wine will also be available. Everyone is invited to wear a costume. Admission and food is free – but they’ll charge you for the booze.

The word worldly means “relating or devoted to the temporal world.” Worldliness is the condition of being concerned with worldly things, especially to the neglect of spiritual things. Scripture has much to say about “worldliness,” none of it good.

In fact, there is to be a clear distinction between worldly people and Christians. Read Paul’s instruction to the Ephesian brethren: This I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles walk…(Ephesians 4.17).

He wrote to the Christians in Corinth to go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you (2 Corinthians 6.17) and James encouraged his readers to keep oneself unstained by the world (James 1:27).

Perhaps the clearest language on this matter is Romans 12.1-2, Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Peter reminds Christians that we should refrain from worldly behavior: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2.9).

Without meaning to be harsh or judgmental, I see a great inconsistency in professing to worship God in holiness one hour and then conducting a “traditional Oktoberfest” complete with beer and wine the next. How is that different from the world? How does that proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light?

grace and peace to you all
Bill

 

The Back Page 11-29-2017

In Our Prayers

Fern Smith, Jacquie’s mom…Mildred Meyers, Sue Jackson, and Harold Brunswick in nursing homes….Carol’s niece Valerie CroftBoomer and Amanda have closed on their house in Kearney!

Thanks! To all who helped with yesterday’s clothing giveaway. Those who came to get clothing for their family really appreciated it. What a good way for Westside to be seen as a giving church!

On the Calendar

Thursday, November 2Women’s Bible study will finish 2 Timothy 1 and begin chapter 2, 10:45 – Noon, Sunset Apts.

Thursday, November 2Grief Support group, 7-8:30 pm, Imperial Library.

Today, October 29 – Areawide Singing hosted by the Stratton church at the former Girl Scout Camp, 3:30 pm Central Time.

 

Westside Church of Christ Imperial, Nebraska

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