One of a Pastor’s greatest joys is to have his congregation accept the preaching of God’s Word with readiness and without controversy. Often times the Word of God flies in the face of our accepted traditions and human understanding. Scripture tells us that the preaching of the gospel will be foolishness to some people. Even to God’s own children many times the scriptures seem archaic and sometimes ‘optional’. But as a church, Center Hill, believes that our final authority is the written Word of God for all matters of faith and godliness. We are currently in the middle of a series of messages in the book of Titus. A letter written by the Apostle Paul to a young Pastor, Titus, who was left on the isle of Crete to ‘straighten things out’ that were amiss in the church. It has not been an easy series to preach as a Pastor for the self examination that it has required and because of controversial matters such as our past week’s message. Paul is concerned because false teachers have entered into the church and caused ‘whole families’ to be ruined. The Apostle gives clear instruction to the young Pastor on how to deal with these false teachers and then turns his instruction to how to live graciously in Christian community. This he does by dealing with several classes of people, including older men, older women, younger women and younger men. The strong words of Paul to the younger women of this church seems to contradict the secular teaching of this world and our society today that proclaims that a women is to find her ultimate fulfillment in career status or financial advancement. Paul makes the point that the gospel message of grace and it’s power to change lives is made overwhelmingly evident to an unregenerate world when the younger women of faith find the highest calling and fulfillment in their devotion first to their husband and then to her children. Paul no where says that a women can’t have a career or work in the work place but he makes very clear that if a women makes her career or financial advancement a greater priority than her commitment to being a godly wife and mother than she transgresses Scripture. It was this, one of the most difficult messages I have had to preach, that was our passage last week. The discussion of our people in Sunday School that followed and the comments from this past week have been a blessing to me as Pastor. It has ALL been gracious. Many times the Word of God can seem offensive but our people at Center Hill have shown themselves to be committed to the proclamation of God’s Word even when they may not agree or are not sure. Our people have graciously submitted themselves to the scriptures since I have been Pastor here and it is a great joy and privilege for me to proclaim God’s Word each week. Thank you Center Hill, I love being your Pastor.
Picture the first century church with me “…..they received… with glad and generous hearts”,”…. and having favor with all the people”,”….. great grace was upon them all”,”….when he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad.” This all according to the book of Acts. Picture the 21st century church with me “…..they received…with glad and generous hearts”,”….and having favor with all the people”,”…..great grace was upon them all”,”….when he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad.” This all according to the experience of this Pastor. The month of October has been Pastor Appreciation month, not sure what official body of authority established this or how it is to be observed but our local church and the church at large has surely shown it’s appreciation for this Pastor. CHCC honored us with a gift of a large hand made quilt featuring a stitching of the church and the name of each member. What a treasure! It will proudly (I mean proudly in a ‘Christian’ sense) be displayed in our new house. It truly is a heart felt gift both given and received. The church at large has displayed grace, generosity, and love to us in our recent move from one house to another. What a wonderful example of Christ likeness is the body of Christ as it finds itself both recipients and givers of ‘great grace’. We often compare ourselves as the contemporary church to the first century church, mostly in a negative light. And at times we do fall short in areas of discernment, depth of doctrinal understanding, and commitment to proper worship of a Holy God. But when it comes to showing grace within the body of Christ Center Hill and our friends at First Baptist of Clarion, First Baptist of New Bethlehem and Zion Baptist excel. This has been proven time and time again over the past years as the Body has risen to extend favor where favor is not deserved and certainly not earned, the very meaning of grace. What a privilege to be a part of the church today. Thank you Center Hill and friends for being Christ to my family and me. soli deo gloria