We all know the story of St. John the Baptist. Born to Zechariah and Elizabeth in their old age, he was Jesus' cousin. When Mary visited Elizabeth to share the good news of the coming birth of Christ, the infant John "leapt with joy" in his mother's womb. He's remembered as the last of the prophets whom God empowered to foretell the coming of the Messiah. John preached repentance (Matthew 3:2-8). He began his ministry in the desert, the wild man of God living on grasshoppers and honey and dressed in camel skins. He must have been an amazing sight to the fastidious Jews. But like them, John felt the oppression of the Roman Empire and longed for God to send His chosen family a Messiah that would give the Jews an earthly kingdom. John was a powerful and gifted preacher and he gained many followers. He's probably known best as the one who baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. He looked up and saw Jesus approaching and proclaimed, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" We hear the priest echo John's words at each Mass when we gaze upon the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.
John's life and ministry always pointed the way to Christ. He never sought power or glory for himself. When his followers reported to him that Jesus was baptizing and that many people were now following Him, John's beautiful response remains an inspiration to us: "...this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease"(John 3:30). What's true for John is true for us as well. For God's mighty work to be accomplished in us, we have to get out of His way. God asked John to spend his life preaching repentance and preparation for Christ's coming. John was God's prophet and at our baptism, each one of us claims a share in Christ's divine offices of "priest, prophet, and king (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 897-913). Looking at your own life, how well are you living up to St. John the Baptist's example? Does your life point others the way to Jesus? We might think it's intimidating to compare ourselves to a prophet like John. But in many ways we're living in times very much like John's own.
He was imprisoned for speaking truth to power. In his case, he defended the sanctity of marriage and the king threw him in jail and later had him beheaded in order to impress a woman. John preached the freedom of God's heavenly peace, yet he was thrown into prison. Locked in darkness, John came to bear witness to the Light of Christ. John baptized our Redeemer in water, but received for himself the martyr's baptism of blood. Yet John let nothing stand in the way of his message and his mission. We're each called by God to a unique mission, which only we can fulfill. God doesn't expect you to be another John the Baptist or Mother Teresa or Fulton Sheen. He wants you to fulfill your calling and your mission. These days, the truth of Christ is under assault on every front. Our Bishops stand in opposition to a government, which thinks it can define our faith for us. When asked to put Caesar before Christ, our Bishops have said, "No!" Our culture sees the Church as out of step with modern times.
And we are. If we're to be true to our Savior, we have to stand up for His Truth, which is unchanging. Like John the Baptist, we must constantly point to Christ, no matter the consequences. John wasn't afraid to tell the king the truth about marriage. Catholics must also defend marriage as a Holy Sacrament between one man and one woman. We are called to defend life and that puts us at odds with those who support abortion, euthanasia, human cloning and embryonic stem cell research. Like John we have to raise the cry of outrage when anyone or any institution threatens God's gift of life. We do this through the life-affirming example of how we life. We support the Church and the affiliated organizations, which defend life and the free practice of our faith. We pray. We peacefully protest. And we vote in support of those candidates who also support life and freedom of faith. The Catholic Church proclaims at every Mass, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" Our lives must echo those words as well. He must increase and we must decrease. Our mission is to be Christ to one another and to live joyfully, despite the culture, and despite the government. And while actual martyrdom may not be something we share with St. John, we may very well experience the loss of friends or family who reject our faithful commitment to Christ and His Church. Like John, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and invite the Lord to lead us through whatever may come. John challenged the king and lost his head. But if he hadn't challenged him, he might have lost his soul. Our cultural wilderness is starving for the love and charity of Christ. Will you decrease so that He may increase?
"Behold, I will send my messenger and he shall prepare the way before Me." Malachi 3:11
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Charlotte McGuffey, Salem Baptist Church
Our attendance was up a bit in both services Sunday as most have returned from their summer vacations. The children will be starting back to school next week and settling into a routine and hopefully regular church attendance will be a part of that.
Mel and I attended the homecoming service at New Liberty Baptist Church where I grew up on August 26. They were celebrating 160 years of existence. We heard lots of great music and a good message brought by Rev. Danny Henson. It was good to see Rev. Glenn and Stella Cavin and Rev. Jerry Little and many other friends. New Liberty played a huge part in my life – I was saved and baptized there, memorized the books of the Bible and many favorite scriptures through Vacation Bible School and Sunday school, my love of singing began there and I learned from some of the best, Doug Snyder, Carol Gravely and Mary Langston were huge musical influences in my life and I appreciate them so much and think of them often.
One of New Liberty’s long time members, Bess Simpson, passed away on Saturday, August 25. She sang in the church choir for 65 years and was very faithful to the choir and to the church. She was also a long-time member of the Eastern Star. Her funeral was to be held on Monday. We extend our sympathy to her children, Jimmy and Sharon and their families.
On our prayer list this week are Janie Arch (sister of Chubb Blevins), Charlie and Pat Bates, Alvin Kittle, Kay Rhymer, Kathleen Lewis, James Davidson (brother of Bill Davidson), Holly Stockburger, Mary Eslinger, Archie and Susie McNish, Paul Bramlett and Donald Scoggins.
I was deeply saddened at the death of my friend, Demetrius Stavrianos, of Cleveland, last week after a very brief battle with cancer. Remember his wife, Ozella, in your prayers. He will be missed tremendously, but we are glad he is no longer in pain.
Donald Scoggins has just returned home from the hospital with pneumonia. He was a very sick man but is doing much better. Paul Bramlett is home and is on oxygen due to congestive heart disease. Both of them need our prayers. Frank Scoggins had hernia surgery last Monday and is doing well. He would appreciate our prayers, also.
Happy birthday to Linda Blevins on September 1. Linda is a very sweet and friendly lady and always makes it a point to personally greet each person at church.
Our nominating committee is working to fill the positions of officers and teachers for the coming church year.
Steve and Donna Ensley, Madeline and McIver, vacationed last week at St. Simon’s Island. They did some fishing, swimming and skeet shooting and had a great time.
For those who are interested in the Ringgold farmer’s market, Saturday, September 1 will probably be the last day for this season. We hope it will return next year even bigger and better.
Thought of the week: Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God. Romans 8:39 NIV
Margie Stringer, North Whitfield Baptist
Sunday was a good day and the Lord really blessed.
It was good to have James and Laverne Roberson back in service after James being sick and in the hospital. James is really not well so really pray for them.
Timmy Roberson was sick this weekend with the pink eye. Glenda has been in the hospital since Thursday and was moved from Hamilton to Park Ridge on Friday, and was in T.C.U. all weekend. She has fluid around her heart.
Pat Smith passed away after a long illness and Billie Paul passed away Sunday afternoon.
We heard a great report from Pine Hill Sunday. The crowd was off but they were glad to have Bro. Dale and sister Vicki Ashburn in both services and Bro. Dale preached Sunday night. And they reported so a sweet spirit.
Pray for Bro. Lee, he’s really having some health problems and he really needs your prayers and support.
Robert Dilbeck celebrated his 76th birthday on Sunday Aug. 26th.
Jimmy Hooper really needs your prayers he is in Vanderbilt hospital and is having some serious blood stem procedures and he is looking at two months or more in the hospital even if all goes well.
Our revival will begin on Sept. 10th with Bro. James Langston.
Pray for April Warthan, she is having different health problems. Her back is really giving her a fit.
Pray for all our sick folks there is so much sickness it’s hard for me to name them all.
Dale cut his hand bad with a pocketknife last week and he has really been in pain and he’s still laying around with it propped up. He lost a lot of blood too. Just pray for him and Eddie, he has been sick for a week. He has come back and he really needs your prayers.
Happy birthday wishes to Robert Dilbeck on Sunday Aug. 26th.
Emma Jo Davis, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church
Everyone that has been out sick seemed to be back in the service on Sunday morning. We are thankful for that and also for the visitors that were with us. It was good to have Joseph Headrick and his family with us. Joseph grew up at Pleasant Valley. Really enjoyed his song "It Is Well With My Soul”. We always love to see the young people that have been with us come back to visit.
Wednesday evening, September 19th the church will be going to Calvary Baptist Church in Tunnel Hill, Bro. Tony Hight is the Pastor. Bro. David will be preaching and our special singers will be singing. Hope everyone that can, will try to go to this. I don't know if someone will drive the van so we all won't have to drive.
Dianne Hullender had her treatment on Tuesday and is doing well from that. She was feeling weak on Sunday Morning but otherwise she is just doing great. Continue to pray for her. Jewel Mitchell had a problem with her heart. She is much better with some medication. Vanessa, Betty Pitt's niece got to go home from the hospital after her 2nd surgery. Ann Touchstone's daughter, Linda Smith is having some health problems and will have a MRI. Pray for her and her husband. Nathan Broome's mother had surgery; Nathan and Barbara were going to check on her today. Della Peters, Gary's wife has been in the hospital but was to go home this weekend.
Jimmy Cain had a heart attack Thursday morning. He had by-pass surgery later that day and was doing well after surgery but he will be in the hospital for several days. Please pray for him and Brenda and the family.
Others on our prayer list are: Ellie Pitts, Louise Clark, Thurman and Norma Headrick, Emma Lou Brown, Edna Allen, Bernice Orr, Johnny Chapman, Al Holsomback, Jan Elliott, Susie McNish, Doris Pitts, Margie Land, Kim Owens, Benny Wilson, Kim Hullender, others with decisions that need guidance from the Lord, family members with problems, our troops, our nation as this election nears and our missionaries.
Happy birthday wishes go to Harry Hullender and Ashlyn Pitts, August 30. Joy Holcomb, August 31, Melanie Myers, September 3.
Happy Anniversary Wishes go to Terry and Jan Disheroon, September 1st.
Thought for today: The best vitamin for a Christian is B1.