n January 15, 1919, in what surely is one of the weirdest disasters in American history, a vat containing 2 million gallons of molasses ruptured, flooding the streets of Boston with a 30-foot-high wave of sticky goo moving as quickly as 35 miles per hour, ultimately killing 21 people and injured 150 others. Locals say the neighborhood still smells of molasses on hot summer days. I don’t doubt it. How have I never heard of this before today? Because it struck only the working class, says historian Stephen Puleo. John Jacob Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim and The Unsinkable Molly Brown were nowhere to be found. Just regular joes who either died and were mostly forgotten, or who survived and went back to work as soon as conditions permitted. That’s the way disaster works most of the time. Occasionally someone writes a book or signs a reality TV show contract, sure. But most of us, to be blunt, aren’t interesting enough for that. Most of us do the only thing we can do — get on with our lives. Just because I get hit by a huge wall of molasses doesn’t mean the family doesn’t need food and shelter. I have to come up with a way to make it work. Self-pity doesn't solve problems, or soften problems, or really even address problems. So what’s the point? Take a point from Philippians 4:11-12 and find contentment where you are, not where you are not. For the Christian, that should be easy; after all, the Source of our contentment is living right inside us (Galatians 2:20). And that’s something to be grateful for — especially when the next wall of molasses heads our way. HH

his is a safe place. That is what people like to say to offer consolation and acceptance to people who have been ostracized, who have nowhere to go and no one to trust, who are used to being stabbed in the back — sometimes literally — by their closest confidants and friends. There is no danger in a safe place. No threat of harm or insult. No insults. No slights. No personal judgments. You are who you are, and no one expects you to be anyone else. Abused women seek a safe place. They don’t need life lessons or advice or counseling nearly so much in the short term as they need a place with walls. They will learn to deal with the demons on the inside in time, provided they get time. What they need right away is to escape the demons on the outside. They may, however, need immediate medical attention. Their current state, if bad enough, will not be improved significantly with mere safety. They need proactive help. And anyone who would offer them “a safe place” without ministering to their current needs is no friend. The church is a safe place in that sense. Souls lost in sin are desperate to find shelter. Seeking Jesus, the only true remedy for sin (“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” — Acts 4:12), they are brought into His body, the church (Ephesians 1:23). This by no means fixes everything that is going wrong in their lives. But it does provide them an environment where they are sheltered from the storm of the world, where they can cleanse their hearts and minds of the horrors to which they have been subjected. Harping on past failures that
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A publication of

East Hill church of Christ 2078 East Nine Mile Road Pensacola, Florida 32514 (850) 479-2130 Easthillchurchofchrist.org Hal Hammons, preacher and editor Hardy Eubanks, Andy Goodson and Larry Smith, elders

Vol. 3, No.4 January 26, 2014

“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” — Romans 6:4

brought them to the brink of destruction is pointless at this juncture. The time will come eventually, as wounds heal, to revisit the past with a view to doing better in the future. But piling guilt upon guilt at the point when Jesus is healing them of their wounds (1 Peter 2:24) makes no sense. We minister to them spiritually as Jesus does — with love, with patience, with kindness. “And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching

The touch of _____________ is _______________________
All need _________________ (________________________) because all _____ (___________________) Many “_________________” Jesus, but His ___________ only went out to ______(_________________) Many “___________” Him today, but not all are _______________ (_____________________________) The difference is ____________ (__________________________)

them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh” (Jude 22-23).
Unfortunately, however, some people come to the body of Christ in a state of active sin. One may be an alcoholic. One may be a homosexual. One may be in a state of adultery. We rejoice in the salvation of such ones, but we cannot turn a blind eye toward the sin that has not only characterized their past but also continues to characterize their present. Like an abused woman with a broken arm or a head wound, a person caught up in current and ongoing sin must be tended to immediately. We do not put our ministry of love and comfort on hold; far from it. But a body that does not care about getting sinners out of sin is not a “safe place” at all. Their geography may have changed, but their danger level has not. The time may even come when a new convert is seen as being so unrepentant as to have a deleterious effect on the body at large. Endangering the whole for the benefit of one who does not appear to even want to be saved himself does not create a “safe place” — either for the individual or for the body. Perhaps it is appropriate for local elders to exercise some judgment regarding timing and “second chances.” However, at some point the mandate of 1 Corinthians 5:11 must be respected and honored. Too often, though, a “safe place” is seen only as a place safe from human condemnation — as though that were the only, or even the primary, danger. But we are not concerned with being safe from the stigmatization of others (as though such a situation could ever exist here on this earth). We want to be safe from sin, from the devil, from the righteous wrath of God (Hebrews 10:31). And we cannot achieve that safety by ignoring the sin in the lives of our members. Parents may not rejoice in the hurt feelings and dampened spirits of a child who is told, perhaps abruptly and with some force, that he is not allowed to play in the oven. But safety is the primary objective, not feelings. Feelings will heal in a loving, nurturing environment; serious injuries may not. Likewise, in God’s house, we make no effort to convince a sinner that he should feel good about himself in his sin; instead, “restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). By emphasizing the seriousness of sin in a context of love, we mimic God’s own attitude — “Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity,

We’re ________________ when we __________ to be
Not everyone minds being _____________________: _______ is what the world _____________ (___________________); They have trouble conceiving why _______________ would think _____________________ (_________________); You can’t be made _____________ and stay ________! One must come to his _____________ (_____________________) before he can seek out the Lord’s _______________________

We’re _________________ when we _______________ to be
The woman ___________ she would be healed when she came in contact with the ________ Our __________________ is as certain as His _____________ (________________________________) There’s no point in coming to ____________ if you question His ability to ________ through ____________________ (_________________________)

We’re __________________ when we ___________ to be
Failed “_____________________” can sour us on the idea that our life can ever be ___________ (_________________) We can find comfort in ________________ — “_________ God and _______!” (________________) If we can find the strength to “_________” (________________), “___________” (_________________)

but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off” (Romans 11:22). Then, perhaps, he will appreciate the horrors of his current state and
be moved to embrace the safety available only in Jesus. HH

and “__________________” (_________________________), we will be _________________