White Rock Baptist Church Blog

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The Gist of the Church School Lesson

Posted Monday, October 07, 2019

07Oct

Faithful During Distress

Read: Genesis 18.16—19.29

When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Get up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or else you will be consumed in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered;

Genesis 19:15-16 (NRSV)

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is well known but we should take note that Lot and his family were spared not by their faith, but because of God’s faithfulness.

The Lord told Abraham about the intended destruction of Sodom and immediately Abraham began to intercede for his nephew, Lot. The conversation in Genesis 18.22-33 could be read as an intercessory prayer; Abraham “negotiated” mercy for the cities if ten righteous persons could be found there. When God’s angel messengers arrived, they were soon met by Lot, who offered them the hospitality of his home (just as Abraham had hosted them, 18.1-8). However, the city of Sodom was hostile, not hospitable. The citizens surrounded Lot’s house, demanding that he send his guests out that they might rape them. Lot had been so long in Sodom that he thought offering his two daughters to the mob was a lesser atrocity (19.8). Sodom was totally corrupt. Indeed, the prophet Ezekiel will later say: This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it (Ezekiel 16:49-50). The angels rescued Lot and announced God’s intent to destroy the city. But Lot lingered (v. 16). It was not until daybreak that the angels literally dragged Lot and his family out of the city. His wife, instead of fleeing, turned back and was “petrified” (v. 26). Lot begged to go to a nearby city (Zoar, vv. 20) instead of fleeing to the hills. As a result, God spared Zoar (v. 21) So, God actually saved more than the ten people Abraham prayed for!

God is pleased when we are faithful. But we must acknowledge, honestly, that God is faithful to his people even when they are unfaithful to God. Lot malingered and God still delivered him. We are sometimes stubborn, foolish, willful even, wicked and, thankfully, God is faithful during our distress.

Reverend Steven B. Lawrence

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Word From the Pastor

Posted Sunday, October 06, 2019

06Oct

Greetings and Joy!

I am grateful to God and to all of you who joined in reading the Bible here in the Sanctuary or shared via technology at home—over the past two Wednesdays. I thank God also for all who shared in Intercessory Prayer that the reading will be a time of actual listening to the Lord’s voice. Continue in prayer with me that the Lord will increase the numbers among us who read and pray—to the end that all of us will be open to receiving His word and obeying His will. So, our celebration of 121 years as a People will be for us a time of spiritual growth and great blessings.

The Intercessory Prayer period will again be at 7am, 12 noon and 7 pm this Tuesday, October 8. The call-in number remains the same 605-745-4089 and the participant code is 257349#.

Bible Reading hours continue on Wednesday, October 9 from 7 am until 6:30 pm, you can follow the reading via livestreaming on www.facebook.com – White Rock Baptist Church.

God’s grace and peace be multiplied unto you.

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The Gist of the Church School Lesson

Posted Wednesday, October 02, 2019

02Oct

A Covenant of Love

Ephesians 5.21—6.4

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Ephesians 5.21 (NRSV)

Ephesians 5.21—6.4 is the portion of scripture that has been (mis)used to subjugate women, endorse slavery and position the church on the wrong side of issues like domestic abuse. Let’s attempt a fresh look at these often quoted verses.

In the 4th Century B.C.E., Aristotle developed what is called the “Household List.” It contained a description of behaviors and relationships in the Greek domicile. In the time of the Apostle Paul, the Roman Empire had adopted the household list with the Husband/Father as the dominant figure. The Pater Familias (Father of the Family) had absolute authority over children and slaves (who in a sense were seen as property) and much power over his wife, the mother of his children. When Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians, he was concerned that Christians not be accused of disrupting Roman families. Paul did not create the Household List. Instead he sought to provide a Christian commentary for it. Paul offered instructions for any believer who found him or herself in a household governed by the list. Listen closely to Paul’s instructions. First, he counsels all believers to be subject to one another (Ephesians 5.21). All believers are saved by the same Christ and are equal in God’s sight. So, all are to obey God and be submissive to one another; to put the other ahead of self; to practice Christian love (agape). A submissive wife was not an unexpected role but for a husband “to love his wife as Christ loved the church,” this was innovative. It was expected for adult children to take care of their elderly parents, but for fathers to not “provoke their children,” this was new. Slaves were expected to obey their masters but for masters to deal with slaves without threating them, this was revolutionary.

When Paul wrote he was commenting on the status quo of his day. He may not have imagined a world where these household rules did not apply. However, he also gave Christians instruction on how to behave under these rules: “treat everyone fairly,” show love to everyone regardless of status,” “consider all believers your brothers and sisters.” These Christian behaviors slowly, but certainly, helped to unravel the brutal systems of dominance and slavery.

Reverend Steven B. Lawrence

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The Gist of the Church School Lesson

Posted Monday, September 09, 2019

09Sep

THE GIST OF THE CHURCH SCHOOL LESSON

Spiritual Discernment

Read: Matthew 7.1-29

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.

Matthew 7.24-25 (NRSV)

This lesson concludes our look at Matthew Chapters 5—7, the Sermon on the Mount. These three chapters have a variety of sayings and teachings. Jesus ends this section with a parable that shows the result of following his commands.

Jesus’ command to “judge not” is often misunderstood. The Greek word krino literally means “to pick out by separating.” When used in a legal sense it means “to come to a judgment.” In the ancient world, krino was not an evaluation; more often, it was a condemnation. “I am right so others must be wrong.” Jesus said final judgment is not in our hands. In fact, a way to avoid judgments is to observe the “golden rule.” In everything do to others as you would have them do to you. (Matthew 7.12). A Greek philosopher said that rule 500 years before Jesus (Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing) but note that Jesus made a positive expression; he described what to do rather than what to avoid doing. Jesus further stated that true and false teachers will be known by their fruit (vv. 16-20), not by their appearance. Jesus warned that it will take more than just calling him “Lord, Lord,” to enter heaven. The Father will recognize those who do His will.

The teachings of Jesus were like maxims; statements that were obviously true to any reasonable person. His sayings were like the proverbs of the Old Testament wisdom sayings. So it was appropriate for this Sermon to conclude with a parable. “All those who hear the words of Jesus and put them into practice will be like a wise person who builds his home by first digging down to the bedrock. Then, on that sure foundation, the home is raised up. Anyone who hears but does not act on Jesus’ words is like the foolish person who build a house on what appeared to by sturdy but was only sand. When the storms came the first house stood up to the wind but the second house was totally lost.”

Reverend Steven B. Lawrence


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Word From the Pastor

Posted Sunday, September 08, 2019

08Sep

THE WORD FROM THE PASTOR - SEPTEMBER 8, 2019

I think that the highlight of the meeting of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. in New Orleans this past week was the election of the Reverend Jerry Young to serve his term as President. His re-election was not a surprise—there were no other contending candidates for the office. I ask you now to join me in prayer for him and the Convention as he presides over the next five years. These years are critical.

Looking at our own life here at White Rock, our annual efforts of recommitment to Christ have begun. I ask us to prayerfully prepare to pack out the drama of our submission to God by beginning our preparations for Bible Reading. This year the Bible Reading takes a different schedule and have the added emphasis. Let us begin our reading on Wednesday, September 25, continuing reading for four consecutive Wednesdays and concluding those Wednesdays with our reading on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, October 2, 9, 14, 15 and 16. I call up our Sheepfolds and Auxiliaries to choose/recruit and to volunteer for public readings now. I encourage all to read along selected passages as we read through the entire Bible. We will conclude each day of reading with prayer and discussions. May God strengthen us in and by His word. Both written and in the flesh.

God’s grace and peace be multiplied unto you. . .

Joy! We are one in the Lord.


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Thoughts

Posted Wednesday, April 17, 2019

17Apr

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The Gist of the Church School Lesson

Posted Wednesday, March 20, 2019

20Mar

Called to Sacrifice

Lesson and Read: Mark 1.16-20; Luke 14.25-33

Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14.26-27 (NRSV)

This lesson presents two pictures of discipleship. One comes from the start of Jesus’ ministry (Mark 1.16-20) and one from perhaps its zenith (Luke 14.25-35).

In Mark, Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee and called out to two sets of brothers, Simon and Andrew, James and John. These fishermen dropped their nets and immediately followed after Jesus. Other gospels (Luke 5.1-10; John 1.35-51) indicate that this was not the first meeting between Jesus and these men. They did make a radical decision but they did not leave their businesses without counting the cost. In Luke 14, Jesus’ popularity was at its height. Many “followers” were not disciples. (Today we might say Jesus was “trending,” i.e., the “thing” of the moment). Jesus spoke a word to sober the wild enthusiasm of the crowd. He was on his way to Jerusalem where arrest, torture and crucifixion awaited him. Anyone who would be his disciple had to expect a similar destiny. Jesus was looking for recruits, not spectators. In stark language, Jesus described the cost of true discipleship. Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple (v. 26). The Semitic mind was comfortable with the extreme hyperbole; “hate” described an undivided loyalty. However, the choice to follow Jesus was not to be wholly governed by emotion. The parables in verses 28-25 suggested that one must count the cost of discipleship. A poor or uncalculated decision could be foolish (the inability to finish a tower) or tragic (the slaughter of an outnumbered army).

Jesus challenges us. Do we consider what we have (possessions, positions, relationships) to be of greater value than our commitment to him? What we have will not last; it is like the salt compound found around the Dead Sea, which did lose its flavor and was then useless. The cross of Christ is more than an ornamental accessory. Following Jesus is not a guarantee of comfort; it is a call to sacrifice.

Reverend Steven B. Lawrence

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Word From the Pastor

Posted Sunday, March 17, 2019

17Mar

WHERE ARE YOU GOING? WHY?
Ephesians 3:16-21 (The Voice)

I am sure that you agree with me that our worship on last Sunday was both celebratory and challenging. We thank God for the power of His spirit present in each event in the total atmosphere of our gathering. May God bless each of you for your presence and participation. Thank you for your words and gifts of love.

Your continued prayers are sought as we seek to discern more clearly God’s summons to our lives in 2019 and beyond. Pray, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that in discerning we will resolutely embrace His summons to the utmost of our capabilities. Let us ask the Lord, in all of our gatherings of worship and of personal interactions, for the collective minds/hearts to say, “WE will TRY”, O’ Lord to do and be Your people.

Two months from today we will observe Women’s Day. Sister Lisa Welch serves as the Chairlady for the celebration and Sister Renee Wynn Ellis, daughter of the Church, will be our guest speaker. Every woman (and man)— whether young, mature or aged—is asked to identify specific arenas in which you will seek to grow in grace as a person and in your relationships as members as the Body of Christ. What blessings await us as we experience the joys of our possibilities made real.

God’s grace and peace be multiplied unto you. . .

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Verse for Reflection

Posted Saturday, March 16, 2019

16Mar

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at him and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 

Deuteronomy 6: 6-7