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Illustration by Sally Nurse
WESTPORT ROAD CHURCH OF CHRIST
…….To God be the Glory
OUR DEDICATION DEVOTIONAL GUIDE This devotional guide was written with the purpose of uniting our entire church. Our desire is that our church family be focused in prayer and thought, together and united. It is our prayer that the work and expense that has gone into our new building will be used for the glory of God and this building be used to further His work for His church here at Westport Road Church of Christ. We also pray that anyone God sends through our doors feels welcomed and loved. This is intended as a family devotional guide. As the building dedication date draws near, this 30-day devotional guide will help our family focus together. Begin with Day 1 on Friday, March 18, 2011. Read a devotional thought daily through to Day 30. God has given us an amazing blessing and we are most grateful!
To God be the Glory!
The Prayer Ministry
DAY 1 IS IT BIG ENOUGH? The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.….. Acts 17:24 What was our prayer ministry thinking when they chose that passage? Here we are, excitedly awaiting the day we begin meeting in a larger, newer building – one made with human hands. Are they reminding us that it isn’t a temple? It’s steel and wood and paint and fiber; it isn’t the dwelling place of God. It isn’t the church; it’s where the church meets. So church buildings aren’t temples, and are no more holy than our houses or workplaces – places where the church spends even more time. True, but probably not what they had in mind, and not what Paul is saying to the people of Athens, is it? He isn’t talking about church buildings at all. He’s looking at all those massive temples in their city, and he’s saying they’re not big enough! God’s presence can’t be constrained. Heaven and earth aren’t large enough to serve as God’s temple. The building we’ll soon be meeting in is not a home for God, but a tool He’s provided to be used by His church for worship, teaching, fellowship, outreach and service. Lord God, Thank You for answering our prayers and overcoming all the obstacles that stood in the way to seeing this tool come to completion. Truly, You are Lord of the heaven and earth! Keep us unified and motivated to use it to glorify Your Name! Arnis Pape is the husband of Connie and father of Daniel and Ann, and has served the Lord as our preaching minister since 1997.
GOD’S PLANS ARE GOOD “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” ….. Luke1:37 How often do you breeze by this passage? How often do you assume that His plans are actually your plans with the added benefit of a Divine Backer? Have you ever seen this passage, then looked at your life and doubted that it would ever happen? Sometimes I forget about this passage, about what it truly means that God has plans for me. They are not vague, half-formed notions, but detailed plans. Astounding, isn’t it? The Lord and Creator of the universe has detailed what He wants for you. And it is not a distant model of pure white that will be put in your life if you do what you are supposed to. It is an interactive model, full of warmth and life. He wants to be there every step of the way, wants to share in your every sorrow and your every joy. He wants to walk through the garden with us again. So He tells us how to find Him. Our hearts cannot be kept distant when we pray. I’ve prayed like that before, my words were true but my heart just was not participating. Have you done that? It’s time to let it go. Whatever it is that you are holding away from God, hidden in your heart, let it go. The Father wants and loves every part of you, and need you to lay it all – the good, the bad and the ugly – at His feet so we can start fresh in the new life He wants us to have. Trust me, you won’t regret it. Mary Lira is the daughter of Jan and Danny Lira. She grew up at Westport Road Church of Christ and is currently a graphic design student at Harding University.
DAY 3 SILENCE But the Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth be silent before Him.….. Habakkuk 2:20 I so often feel like Habakkuk. I look around me and see the chaos in the world and wonder what is going to happen to all of it. We are deluged with constant noise from voices, traffic, television, internet, car radios - well, I could go on and on. We are assaulted spiritually by the permissiveness of some of our society’s practices and by the disaster around the world that bring such sorrow and grief to innocent people. And we battle our own private disorder as well: fear, busyness, lack of confidence, lack of faith. I sometimes feel, as Habakkuk did, great confusion and dismay. But when I sit in silence before my Lord, and just listen to His Spirit inside of me, I know that all is well. He is in control. When I look through His eyes, I see the magnificence of the world He has made and the power He has in my life and the lives of His people. I know that the world is under His control and that He is triumphant. When I keep my eyes on Him, I’m no longer torn down by the disorder around me; instead, I am at rest in His arms. Dear Father, Thank You for the gift of silence and peace. Help us to draw near to You and quietly worship You. Help us to keep our eyes on You and find comfort and rest in Your eternal plan. Carol Leigh has been at Westport Road Church of Christ for 43 years. She describes herself as a seeker – constantly looking at each experience as a way to know God more intimately.
DAY 4 WE ARE GOD’S TEMPLE Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? ….. I Corinthians 3:16 Shake off your daily routine, humble yourself and read that again. The Almighty Creator of the universe in you. GOD, who blesses us with life, gives us purpose and (knowing we will fall along the way) redeems us with His blood! A temple is a place to fall on your knees in amazement or prayer – a place to raise our hands, voices and minds higher. Our Redeemer brings His dwelling place to our physical bodies. Amazing! Yet, when we need to put our ―house‖ in order, it is very humbling. Jesus showed that He’s not shy about clearing the temple. What do you need to change today to increase your faith? Make this your priority. Watching our new church building come together has been quite a journey. It’s taken years of talking, planning, buying, preparing and building. Many people have spent long hours trading visions, forming compromises and carrying out the plan. But what does it say if our effort for any earthly structure surpasses our desire to serve in God’s Kingdom? If we are to rise to God’s calling in our lives and in our community, the strength of our church must be something other than steel, padded seats and well-designed acoustics. Father God, You are mighty and You promise to live in me. Empower me to live faithfully according to Your will. Inspire me to look beyond myself and get to work for Your kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. Clay Williams is a medical student. He was born and raised a member of Westport Road Church of Christ. He is engaged to an inspiring Christian woman named Erica.
DAY 5 PEACE IN THIS PLACE And the splendor of the latter house will surpass the splendor of the former, says the Lord of Hosts. In this place I shall grant prosperity and peace. This if the word of the Lord of Hosts.….. Haggai 2:9 This passage speaks of the rebuilding of the temple under Zerubbabel, who was encouraged by God, who said, ―But now, Zerubbabel, take heart. I am with you and My Spirit remains among you.‖ Halley’s handbook says this is distinctly a Messianic vision. Haggai’s mind was on that Temple, but his words were God’s words. And God’s mind, in a sense deeper perhaps than even Haggai himself realized, was on another temple, yet to be, of which Solomon’s temple and Zerubbabel’s temple were but dim pictures: the church built not of stones, but of souls of the redeemed – the church of fadeless, endless, ineffable glory. (Ephesians 2:20-21: ―You are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In Him the whole building is bonded together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord.‖) Let us pray that His Spirit will remain with us as we give Him the glory and use this building to bring the lost to Christ. Ruth Anderson moved to Louisville with her family of one son and four daughters in June 1963 and welcomed another daughter in August of that same year. Her husband came to Louisville to begin the new pulmonary section at the U of L School of Medicine. Her husband and children were all baptized here. She is looking forward to the new step in the history of Westport Road Church of Christ.
DAY 6 CONSECRATE OUR HEARTS
I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me: I have consecrated this temple which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and My heart will always be there …..I Kings 9:3 My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. As we enter this new building and ask God to consecrate it – that His name, His eyes and His heart would be there forever – I want to remember that this building is really made up of individuals. Without us, what good is a building, and without the Holy Spirit within us, what good are we? It is good to be physically fit for the Holy Spirit so he can have a healthy place to reside, but what about deep in our souls? Even when unexplainable sickness and pain rack our bodies, the Holy Spirit still resides within us. How much has pride, bitterness or selfishness taken hold, blocking us from being who we can be for the Lord? May we focus our hearts on surrendering to God every part of who we are, inwardly as well as outwardly. Let this be our goal as we enter a fresh new building, dedicated to His service. Lord, Teach us how to be healthy and strong. Cleanse our hearts and rid us of whatever displeases You and hinders Your intentions for us. In all things we want to be vessels ready to follow Your calling. Consecrate these temples and put Your name within our hearts. As we enter the new building, let us remember where You truly reside and desire to work. In Jesus’ Name, Amen Laura Grady is a Home Manager. Her main ministry is her husband, her five kids, and her home. She enjoys marriage mentoring and financial advising. She would like to be a part in helping all at Westport Road Church of Christ develop a passion for something God has called them to. She and her family have been at Westport Road Church of Christ for 15 years.
DAY 7 BUILDING UPON THE ROCK Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it has its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the side of that house, and it fell with a great crash…..Matthew 7:24-27 How important it is to build a building on a great foundation. It is more important for our lives to be built on a great foundation. The wise mans is the one who hears Jesus’ words and puts them into practice. Both men heard the same words. The wise man wanted to do what God said, and the foolish man wanted to do it all by himself. The wise man did what Jesus said – he had built his life on a good, solid foundation. The foolish man had built his life on that which wouldn’t endure. Therefore, we should practice and have faith in Jesus and do what He says. If you do that, your Christian life will be built on a foundation that will last. Never stop trying to be the wise man, because he did what God said. If you fall, get right back up, because He will forgive you. Dear Lord, Thank You for this new building and what You will do through it. Help us all to live a life with You as our foundation. Daniel Delaney is 10 years old and was baptized on his 10th birthday, January 9, 2011. He is the oldest son of Jeff and Andrea and brother to Andrew and Addison. He is a 4th grade student at Bowen Elementary and has been at Westport Road Church of Christ for most of his life.
DAY 8 SONG OF UNITY Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. …..Psalm 95:6 When I think about this scripture, the thought that immediately comes to my head is singing. Singing is my passion, and every Sunday morning and Wednesday night, I look forward to praising God through song with my church family. God is now blessing us with the opportunity to fill our new auditorium up with people that long to praise God with us and grow together in unity. This verse is an invitation to come and bow down to our God, to sing His praises, for He is the only One Who deserves our praise. As we are eager to open the doors to our new building, our hearts should come together as one, thanking our Father for blessing us continually as a church and as a family. Let us fill the church with voices singing and rejoicing together because of all He has provided for us. Dear Father, We thank You for giving us voices to sing and knees to bend. Please continue to bless this family and help our unity to grow stronger through worshiping You. Lead more people into our new building, and use us to show them your love. Edie Graves is 15 years old and has been at Westport Road Church of Christ since she was born in 1995. In her words, she has watched us grow and has been inspired by many people. One of her gifts is listening to people’s struggles and praying for them.
DAY 9 PRAISE/GIVE/WORSHIP
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name. Bring an offering and come before Him. Worship the Lord in holy array…..I Chronicles 16:29 How often during the day do we think about praising God, our next offering to Him, or worshiping Him? We often get so bogged down in the day-to-day that we forget the directive we are given in I Chronicles 16:29 – simply summarized, praise/give/worship. Some people live a life of praise/give/worship. Thelma Green was a sister I came to know at the Manhattan Church of Christ where Ray and I met and were members when we lived in NYC who lived a praise/give/worship kind of life. A widow of modest means, Thelma taught me not to get so caught up in the day’s problems and tasks that you forget to praise God and give His name due glory throughout each day. Worship Him in ―holy array‖ where you are. He is omnipresent, so He is always where you are. Church is not the only place we praise, give to and worship God. Thelma, while preparing a meal or just ―visiting,‖ would hum a hymn or whisper a prayer. As we inhabit our new building, let’s praise and worship the God of the universe daily, and give His name the glory due it every day. Whether we give money or time, give freely. No offering is too small, and remember that worship is personal between each of us and Him. Don’t shelve God for the week and pick Him up on Sunday. You’ll miss a life of praise/give/worship that provides encouragement through good and bad times. Bonita K. Black-Rivera teaches women’s and children’s classes at the church as needed, leads a prayer group, and chairs the benevolence ministry for the church. She is married to Ray and they have one son, Scotty, age 6. She is also an attorney. She and her family have been at Westport Road Church of Christ since 1998.
DAY 10 THE SPIRIT-LED WORSHIP God is Spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. …..Ephesians 1:18-19 Dear Lord, Our Heavenly Father, I lift up each person at Westport Road Church of Christ to You, and I ask that You will empty each of us of self and fill us with Your Spirit. Open the eyes of our hearts that we may see You and come to know You better. Help us to spend time alone with You daily and to read Your Word and be led by Your Spirit. Help us to give up our control and allow You to be in control of every area of our lives. May You be Lord of our lives. Draw us into a closer, deeper, more mature relationship with You. Take the blinders from our eyes and help us to truly see You. May You reveal TRUTH to us and lead us down Your path for us. Help each of us to understand who You are and fall in love with You, accept You as our Lord and Savior, and be passionately devoted to You all of our days. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. Gail Massey is the wife of Brown and mother to Katie and Sara. She teaches the hearing impaired. Gail and her family have been a part of Westport Road Church of Christ since 1998.
DAY 11 REJOICING….A SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE
Serve Yahweh with gladness! Enter His presence with rejoicing!.....Psalm 100:2 Service—often we associate such a word with weariness and fatigue. We aspire to find work that brings us happiness and contentment, but the demands of life often compel us to settle for mere subsistence. When this becomes the status quo of our lives, it is easy to imagine the idea of service as being something of an inconvenience or emotional burden. To serve God with gladness no doubt requires we reflect on the ways in which we choose to live our lives. For the Psalmist, service evokes radically different associations. The prospect of participating in the work of God is something about which one has great cause to rejoice! The project is carried out in the midst of thanksgiving; outward expressions reveal an inner disposition of devotion and affection. How is this achieved? Does the exhortation to serve with gladness belong exclusively to the ideal world of the Psalmist? Perhaps the Psalmist, too, had daily struggles with which to contend. Perhaps the Psalmist knew the difficulty of maintaining such a positive posture. What if we were to read the Psalmist's words as instruction? Serving those whom God desires to touch and doing so with a proper attitude no doubt requires spiritual discipline developed through ritual observation. A sentiment like the Psalmist's does not develop overnight. If we heed the words of the Psalm and embody their advice (dare this mean we actually sing them?!?), they become, in time, a reality in our lives. Joseph Kelly is a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary studying Old Testament Theology. He and his wife, Laura, have been attending WRCC since the summer of 2010. He teaches adult Bible classes, often focusing on texts from the Old Testament.
DAY 12 LIVING LIFE WELL
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts …..Colossians 3:16 I suppose you’d figure assigning a verse about singing to the worship guy would be the natural thing to do. And, traditionally, most of us have used this as a ―worship‖ verse. But I want to call our attention to the verses surrounding it. Listen to some of these phrases: ―…cloth yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience‖ ―Bear each other.‖ ―…forgive one another …‖ ―…put on love…‖ ―Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…‖ ―Let the message of Christ dwell among you …‖ ―…with gratitude in your hearts …‖ ―…do it all in the name of the Lord.‖ These are all statements about living life, not just worship. Or maybe it is better put by saying worship is more about living life that just Sunday mornings. I wonder what it would be like if we take with us to the new building the phrases in the passage. How much more powerful will our collective worship be as we are living these things in life! We’ll bring with us on Sundays the power of the Holy Spirit’s work in us. As I await the first notes to be heard in our new building, I know that our church, one that already sings well, will shake the rafters with our voices as we practice these things, and that we truly will ―…teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit…‖ Doug Lalli is a member and minister at Westport Road Church of Christ. He and his family have been here since 1997. In his words, he has the honor of helping lead our church in our worship assemblies.
DAY 13 GIFTS FOR GOD’S GLORY
Not unto us, oh Lord, not unto us, but to Your Name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth …..Psalm 115:1 We all love the excitement of receiving gifts and often wonder with great excitement what some gifts may be like if we ever did receive them. The excitement of the new building is all around us, and so much preparation has gone into the development of this new building. Contributions happen in many different ways, and God has provided each of us with various talents to use in the service of our Lord. It is amazing to think how God has brought each member at Westport Road Church of Christ together to serve in a different way! Many have contributed to this effort through the devotion of their time, thoughtful prayer and allocation of money contributed to make the development of the new building expansion possible. Time is a precious gift that we are all equally given. With this gift of time, each person has the ability to use their own unique talents. For some, the devotion of this time is their way of giving back to God. Some chose to give up self for the ability to serve others and to God, using their time devoted to completing whatever task is necessary. How we use our gift of time is a talent to consider. Prayer is the most powerful blessing we all are capable of using for good and something that each of us is equally given along with our time. It is a great comfort to know that we can talk to God with prayer at any time, about any situation, as He will listen. God has heard the prayers of the church and listened to our hearts. God has answered our prayers and provided a way to make the new expansion possible. Many of us are blessed with good jobs that earn various levels of income. The abundance of this income has given some the ability to provide the contribution needed to make this new expansion a reality. Even though we may not all have the money to give as much as we wish, it is important to remember that our talents are blessings from God, and for some, the ability to give monetarily is their talent. As the days lead up to completion of the new building expansion, we have so much to be thankful for to God because He has provided us with the blessings and talents we need to make everything possible. We need to be mindful that none of this would have been done without God, and remember that every good thing comes from above. Jennifer, Luke and Caroline Puckett came to Westport Road Church of Christ in February 2010. Luke is a Doctor of Chiropractic and teaches anatomy class at various medical colleges in Louisville. Jennifer is a domestic engineer who works from home and is also a hair stylist. Their beautiful daughter, Caroline, is still in diapers and learning to talk, but she loves to sing and dance.
DAY 14 EXPANDING OUR HORIZONS
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds, and praise your Father in Heaven…..Matthew 5:16 A strong command given by Jesus to all his disciples. We think of this statement and we envision early church leaders and members as they stood before men being persecuted, tortured and even killed for their beliefs. Their light shone through all of their suffering and dedication to God and His Son. We, in our world, are not faced with the persecution and immediate prosecution. So how do we let our light shine to the world and our belief in Christ and his teachings? This is our challenge as a person, group and congregation. Do we study and learn, but not share? Do we make ourselves comfortable in our own building, group and friends? Or, do we, as Westport Road Church of Christ has, embark on a journey where we expand our horizons, be more inclusive and open our doors to all who wish to worship God in fellowship with other Christians? Westport Road Church of Christ started in the 1950’s when we expanded and moved from the safe confines of the St. Matthews neighborhood to what was then considered the outer reaches of Louisville. We expanded our building several times to accommodate a growing congregation, expanded our hearts and our arms to fellow Christians who were in the area, and expanded our programs to be more inclusive of our neighborhood and neighbors. Now we have expanded our building in the years 2010 and 2011. This expansion is not for our own comfort, but rather to enlarge our congregation to include more people, families and friends. We are letting our light shine through our building and through our programs to encourage those around us to see God and to learn of His life and His Son. Once again, our church has proven that our light does shine, that we have not hidden it under a basket, and that we are here for one purpose, and that is to glorify God and to encourage all others to find Him. Gary Gilmour has been a member at Westport Road Church of Christ for more than 30 years. He is the husband to Carol and father of Karina. In his words, ―Long-Time Member, Worker and Christian.‖
DAY 15 OUTREACH Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most out of every opportunity…..Colossians 4:5 Here at Westport Road, everyone is completely aware of the great excitement that comes along with seeing the new building rise. But what is all this buzz about? Sure, it looks nice and all, but this church family is so crazy about the new building because we all now have more room to bring our secular friends and family into the body of Christ, the most important mission given to us about two thousand years ago by the greatest man ever to walk the earth, Jesus Christ. What goes on inside the building is going to be what draws the crowd we are looking for. There is no doubt in my mind that with the wisdom from our elders and the loving hearts from our younger members, we will become successful in what we are called to do. It is true that the above scripture uses the terminology ―outsiders,‖ but it is also true that if we do our part with hearts full of love and the Spirit of God, there will be no group called the outsiders. Everyone will be one with that thought in mind. One life. One love. One sound of praise and glory to the Lord. A TRUE church family. Hold onto something sturdy, because God is about to take over. Just watch Him do His thing! Casting all your worries on Him, because He cares for you…..I Peter 5:7 Brad Browning is 16 years old and a high school sophomore at Saint X. He has attended Westport Road Church of Christ since he was born and has been an active part of the youth group since 6th grade.
DAY 16 A LOVE SONG
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another…..John 13:34-35 Dear God, I pray that You bless my heart so that I may love others as I should. I pray that You soften my heart and break down the walls so that I may follow Your commands to love all around me. I know at times my heart can be hard and cold. Those are my weakest times, and I pray, Lord, that You will soften it. Help me to love my brothers and sisters in Christ and forgive them, to not hold grudges. Help me to love others so that they know that we Christians are disciples. Bless our lives and the lives of others. I love You, Lord. And in Your Son, Jesus Christ’s, name I pray, Amen. Amazing Love (Psalm 139) Verse 1: How could You love someone like me? So many flaws, for I doubt and I sin, though You seem to still care for me. It is said that You have searched me and know me. You know when I sit and when I rise. You’re familiar with all my ways, oh Lord. Verse 2: Such a big world, such a huge place. Out of so many people, You know me so well. You know my doubts, my fears, all of my emotions. You are the only One who can mend the cracks in a broken heart, the only One who knows my soul. Verse 3: Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there. If I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there, Your hand will guide me. Verse 4: You give me hope for a better life. You give me love so my heart will survive. So search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts and lead me to the way of everlasting. Chorus: Because Your love is so amazing, I can’t seem to fathom, and the joy that You give me is unlike any other thing. And when I’m in the darkest places, You’re there, shining Your light. Your love is everlasting Sharee Nurse is 15 years old. In her words, ―My life has changed dramatically because of Westport Road Church of Christ. They gave me another family. We love one another and really do show it. The youth group here is my family, my brothers and sisters, and I love them so much.‖
DAY 17 A DIRECT LINE TO GOD For you have been called to live in freedom; not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love. Beware of destroying one another…..Galatians 5:13-15 A friend is always there to take your call. God does not use an answering machine. God does not have a callwaiting signal. God never puts you on hold. God answers me whenever I call to Him. If I want to speak with God, I must listen for His voice. I can ask Him about anything. Sometimes the answer is ―no.‖ Sometimes the answer is ―wait.‖ God does not always give me what I ask for, but He always gives me what I need. Love one another, for love is of God. He who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, For God is Love. God is Love. Father, Help us to open the doors of our homes and our hearts to those in need. Bless our home with Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. Felicia Mayfield and Pat Mitchell are mother and daughter. Felicia (daughter) has three children and Pat has five children. They have been at Westport Road Church of Christ off and on since 1980. Pat was one of the original teachers at Browns Lane Christian Academy.
DAY 18 GOD’S ADMONITION Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus …..John 13:34-35 It is wonderful for us to know that God is always present and near to us in all our endeavors. We should be happy in this knowledge and show it in our actions. Dear Heavenly Father, in whom we live, move and have our being, help us to always be gentle, kind and uplifting in words and deeds to those we meet, whether friend or stranger. In Christ’s Holy Name, Amen Nell W. Carnahan is a native of Ruston, Louisiana. She has been a Christian since her younger years and was the daughter of Christian parents and the mother of Christian children. She has been a member at Westport Road Church of Christ since 1995, is active with the ―Speeders‖ and just celebrated her 94th birthday.
DAY 19 WE ARE GOD’S EYES AND GOD’S HANDS May the God of endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus…..Romans 15:5 As Christians, we are called not only to love God with all our being, but to also love our neighbor as ourselves. Love for our fellow man is easy when the person generally looks and thinks like we do. It gets more challenging when they have alcohol on their breath or profess to follow Allah. It is not our place to judge or put value on anyone. That is God’s job. It is our job to love. Jesus never turned His nose up to a prostitute, tax collector, drunkard, agnostic or adulteress. He love, healed and forgave. Our love has to be blind to color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, personal choice, or social status. For God does not show favoritism. He handcrafted all of us in His image and loves us all the same. What unifies us is not our political views or where we go to church, but rather our dependence on the same holy grace – a grace that looks past a detestable lifestyle of difference of opinion to show compassion and acceptance. Give to the poor. Love the godless. Befriend the outcast. And forgive the person that irritates you the most. The singer Jewel said it beautifully in her song ―Hands‖. She said, ―We are God’s eyes, God’s hands….in the end, only kindness matters.‖ Nicole Flikkie came to Westport Road Church of Christ in 2003. Nicole describes herself as a woman once widowed, but allowed a second change to be a wife to a wonderful man – a man who shares with her four exciting and amazing children. A woman blessed beyond anything she could ask or imagine.
DAY 20 THE HOPE AND POWER THAT IS OUR INHERITANCE
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength. …..Ephesians 1:18-19 We are frequently caught up in the intellectual pursuit of knowing the words of God without understanding the power that these words represent. Paul is challenging us to move beyond simple comprehension to a deeper reality, where the eyes of our hearts are fully engaged. This is beautiful language to describe what happens when we completely embrace and understand with our hearts and emotion; it becomes our passion. Paul prayed that our hearts would be open to an amazing truth: The hope that is our inheritance. This is a very different kind of hope than we are used to. Most of our ideas about hope imply some uncertainty, that something might be true, that someone will like us, etc. But Paul is praying that we will see our hope in Christ as a confident expectation, an absolute truth. It isn’t enough to simply understand with our minds. Not until we move this truth from our minds to the core of our hearts will we fully experience the power that God offers. Once we make that journey, there is nothing that we can’t accomplish. Our hearts will burn with the truth, and this truth will transform our lives. Paul prayed with beautiful and moving language that we would see and understand the deeper, eternal reality of our hope in Christ. This hope is our delight and our confidence. Our inheritance means that we will have an eternity to learn and experience God. As we dedicate our new facilities, let us also dedicate the eyes of our hearts to understanding the power we have to transform not only our lives, but the community we are part of. T. Cantrell teaches Philosophy at the University of Louisville. She and her husband, Kerry, have attended Westport Road Church of Christ since 2006.
DAY 21 THE MANDATE FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called…..Ephesians 4:3-4 People today try so hard to be individuals, to show that they are unique and special. In doing this, it is easy to forget the importance of unity. According to Merriam-Webster, Unity is A condition of harmony: accord Continuity without deviation or change (as in purpose or action The quality or state of being made one: unification A totality of related parts: an entity that is a complex for systematic whole
Isn’t it comforting to think of us as living in harmony? That if we work together towards a unified purpose without deviating from that path, we can actually feel at peace. The definition above does not say uniformity or mention being identical. It speaks of oneness in which each part of the whole comes together. We each are an important part of this church. In some way, we can each give of our unique talents to keep our congregation on that unified path to glorifying God. In 2005, I moved 228 miles away from the place I still call home. One of my first priorities was to find a new church family. I visited many different Churches of Christ congregations, but I knew the first moment I walked into Westport Road Church of Christ that I had found my place. I have felt acceptance, peace, harmony and encouragement each time I’ve walked through the doors. And I am proud to be unified with you. Heidi Heiss is a school counselor at Taylorsville Elementary in the Spencer County School System. She has been a member of Westport Road Church of Christ since 2005. She teaches and helps with the Children’s Church.
DAY 22 SHINING AS STARS
Do everything without complaining or arguing. …..Philippians 2:14 We all have known people both in the faith and outside the faith who seem to be constant complainers. Nothing ever seems to go right, or no one seems ―good enough‖ to them. I sometimes wonder what goes through their mind that makes them so unhappy or unsatisfied with everything. Do they expect too much? Are they too self-centered? I’m not sure about anyone else, but myself, I try to avoid those types of people if I can. The constant complaints or arguing will eventually wear me down and have an effect on me that I don’t like. If I’m around them long enough, the behavior tends to rub off on me, and I find myself looking at the negative side of everything. Don’t get me wrong, there are some people who have struggles in their life more than most people, and maybe they have a cause to complain or argue. These folks need an empathetic heart, prayers, and our support. The complainer needs our prayers, too, that their hearts will change for God and that they will see the glass half full and not half empty. Whenever I get down, I ask God to work on my heart and rid me of Satan’s influence. No matter how bad I think I have it, I always hear of or see someone else who has it a lot worse than I do, and I never hear a negative word come from their mouth. They have just as much effect on my attitude as the complainers do, but in a good way. It is my prayer that all of us at Westport Road Church of Christ will have our hearts focused on pleasing God and letting our light shine to those who are seeking a relationship with Jesus. Larry Ellison is currently an elder at Westport Road Church of Christ. He and his wife, Diane, have been members for the last 18 years. Larry and Diane have been married for 34 years and have three grown sons .
DAY 23 FAITH IS ENOUGH The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase their faith!”….Luke 17:5 At first glance, it would appear that at pivotal points in our lives, we should ask God to give us more faith. But when you read the following verse, Jesus denounces this mentality. Faith is not really measured by God (Mark 11:22-23). When we ask God to give us more faith, we are ultimately questioning His power. ―Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are the meek‖ (Matthew 5:3,5). We don’t need to be stronger; we don’t need ―more.‖ We must realize that it’s the quality and authenticity of faith that God embraces. We are small, and even as a united body, we alone can do very little. But if we give what we have --- all that we have --- then God can do His will. Does God have control of your budget? Does He determine how you spend your time? Is He praised by the use of all of your gifts? Or have you just given Him portions? As our congregation moves, does God have the right to do whatever He wants to do? Do we choose His plan over ours ---regardless of how that looks for us? Are we willing to let not only ourselves, but our plans die so that we can fully live in Him? (I Corinthians 15:31; Colossians 3:3). As long as we believe with everything He’s given us, His grace will be enough to move mountains. Joshua Jennings is a college student and a follower of Christ. He and his parents, John and Debbie, and sister, Katie, have been at Westport Road Church of Christ for 11 years.
DAY 24 ARMOR ALL
And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. …..Ephesians 6:18-20 This passage is at the conclusion of Paul’s exhortation for Christians to put on the whole armor of God. Although the passage does not associate prayer with a specific piece of armor, such as a helmet or sword, prayer is undoubtedly a ―must have‖ weapon in fighting against the devil’s schemes. The devil seems to love the strategy of divide and conquer. He has used it from the time of Adam and Eve. He must hate it when we pray for ALL the Lord’s people – especially if we let the Lord decide who His people are. Earlier in Ephesians, Paul indentified the ―mystery‖ as being the fact that through Jesus, all nations are heirs of God’s promise; that Jews and Gentiles are one body. (Eph. 3:6) Many powerful people of that day did not want to hear that message. That is why Paul was literally an ―ambassador in chains.‖ Why might we be hesitant to make this gospel known? Can’t think of the right words? Social acceptance? ―Political Correctness‖? Not sure I really understand it all perfectly? Will words be given to me instantaneously, or will I need to study, meditate, pray and practice? Do we allow these fears to restrain us as much as any iron chain could? God, we ask that You give us courage to speak, even when we are afraid, and give us words to help heal whatever may separate people from You. When we are tempted to speak words that would divide Your people, give us patience, wisdom and a mouth that will not open. We ask a special blessing upon our ministers, that they would fearlessly make known Your message of reconciliation. Ernie Williams met his wife, Patricia, in the auditorium of Westport Road Church of Christ, where they were married in December 1976. This church has been a huge influence in the growing up of their three grown sons.
DAY 25 ELDERS’ DIRECTIVE To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.…..I Peter 5:1-3 It is interesting to reflect on Peter’s counsel to elders of the early church. Peter actually received these instructions from Jesus Himself, as recorded in John 21:15-17. Three times Jesus asked Peter: ―Do you truly love me?‖ and each time Jesus responds to Peter’s affirmation: ―Feed my sheep‖ or ―Take care of my flock.‖ As always, Jesus – the Good Shepherd – led by example. His life and death was and is the ultimate example of self-denial and personal sacrifice for the good of the ―flock.‖ It is a sobering command to Peter, and in turn to us, to emulate this life. Peter obviously is characterized as one of the more human or fallible apostles in the Gospels. He lived up to his charge and ultimately was martyred for his beliefs and teachings, as foretold by Jesus in the immediately following passage (John 21:18-19). Through faith in Him and by the work of the Holy Spirit, all things are possible. I pray that we, as individuals and as a church, may have this measure of faith. Brent Baldwin describes himself as ―embarrassingly blessed with a beautiful, vivacious wife, Tara, and four beautiful children.‖ He is a physician and has attended Westport Road Church of Christ since 2004.
DAY 26 POWERFUL PROTECTION Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms …..Ephesians 6:10-12 Like the Ephesians, Paul’s words of encouragement help Westport Road Church of Christ as we embark on the final stages of our long-awaited journey into the new church home. We, as members, are strong in the Lord and we believe in His mighty power. We love Christ and are committed to serving Him. We also understand that we are in a constant battle with the forces of darkness and we need to take a united stand against these forces. Thankfully, God has provided us with the armor for our stand. He has given us the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the footgear to spread the good news, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword’s Spirit for spreading the word of God. Let us pray our armor will protect us and show us the way so that our love of Christ and our desire to serve Him will be an example to all. We are grateful, God, for Your many blessings upon us and for this opportunity to better serve You. Elizabeth Wagner has been attending Westport Road Church of Christ for about 3 years and was baptized 2 years ago. Her Christian journey was renewed with baptism, and with the loving support of members and friends, she has found a new meaning to her life and the opportunity to serve God.
DAY 27 IN THE WORLD – NOT OF THE WORLD My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.….. John 17:15 As Christ’s disciples, we are here in the world, but not of it, and we need God’s protection from the enemy who comes to steal, kill and destroy. We also need the strength and support of our Christian family; however, we should not isolate ourselves from the secular world. For the Good News of Christ to be spread to the world, we need to be in it, spending time with people who do not yet know Christ – not judging them, but loving them as Christ loves us: unconditionally. We are called to be the salt and the light (Matthew 13:16). How can we disciple others if we do not commune with the world outside of our church friends or outside of our own comfort zone? Let us step outside of our own world and spread the Good News of hope and grace to anyone who seeks Him! Reflect God’s love with our words, deeds and actions. Reflect God’s light into the world so others may learn of Jesus through us. Heavenly Father, Protect me from Satan and the evil influences of the world. In my daily activities, may I strive to emulate Your Son, Jesus, and reflect His eternal light into the darkness of the world. Let the words of my mouth and the deeds of my heart be acceptable to You. Help me, Father, to love unconditionally, as You love me. In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen. Lori Huffman is the wife of Danny, mom to Ty and Chloe, and stepmom to Collin and Bella. She has been at Westport Road Church of Christ since 2005. She is a safety engineer and personal trainer.
DAY 28 NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE For nothing is impossible with God ….. Luke1:37 As we are ending our building campaign, it is fitting to think of this passage. At the beginning of our campaign, some may have had reservations about how successful we would be due to the economic conditions, but we did it with God! This scripture is perfect for everyday life. Marriage is hard, parenting is hard, balancing is hard, and living in the Spirit is hard. That’s why we need God, Who can provide the strength we need in our lives. Luke 1:37 is a perfect life motto verse. I can only imagine what this world would look like when life got hard if all believers would say and believe for nothing is impossible with God. What challenges in your life look impossible? Read Luke 1:37 and know….nothing is impossible with God! William E. Summers V is a local banker who helped with the financing of the new construction. He is married to Lori and they have a daughter, Avery. William has been at Westport Road Church of Christ since 1995.
DAY 29 TO BE SENT
Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.….. Matthew 28:19-20 Often, as I read the Lord’s final teaching to his followers, I feel I am at a distance from His words. On some level, we all recognize that this great commandment is intended for each of us, but the grand scope of His message, for me, conjures thoughts of the great missionaries who packed their coffins as they traveled to the unknown dark continents and learned the languages of the world. As Jesus chose His words, he chose to use a present continuing form of the word ―GO‖. It should not conjure thoughts of a specific mission trip any more than thoughts of work and school during our daily lives. Jesus, here, commands His followers to adopt an ongoing lifestyle of disciplemaking, a lifestyle of mission. Lord, Thank You for giving our lives purpose. Thank You for instilling within us a reason to rise every day, a reason to go to work and a reason to love the world around us. Father, thank You for promising to go with us, as we know that when we speak on Your behalf, it is You who gives us the words and it is You who gives us the strength. Creator, thank You for giving us talents, passions and joys; help us to use them to further Your Kingdom. Thank You for sending us on a mission, some to faraway lands and some to the worlds in which you placed us naturally. Thank You, whether we speak Your name by treating our coworkers with respect, treating the homeless with dignity, learning a foreign language, or simply loving difficult people. This is Your creation, we are Your people, we love You, and we love to do Your work. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. R. Alan Boyle was raised in a pew at Westport Road Church of Christ. He has worked with the youth group and is now a missionary to people in Chicago who have been hurt by the Church. He is married to Sara and they have a daughter, Grace.
DAY 30 TO SUM IT UP Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever, Amen….. Ephesians 3:20-21 As we begin to worship in our new facility, it is only natural to look back over the past several years and see what it took to get us to this point. It begins with a dream, followed by much planning and preparations, two fundraising campaigns, some anxiety, and considerable hard work by a lot of people. Our prayer all along has been for this project to be God’s and that it will not be an end in itself, but a tool to grow the Kingdom and bring glory to our Heavenly Father. As a congregation, we were able to accomplish this project, but in reality, we all know that it was ―Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think‖. Too many times, obstacles were overcome by the power of God, and our church family gave beyond what was reasonable to expect ―according to the power that works in us.‖ Therefore, we give glory to God as the church of Christ Jesus for His generous blessings. So now the real work begins. We are to utilize our new facility to help build the Kingdom here. Can this be accomplished? Will we see success? If we believe what Paul has written and live it out, we will succeed to God’s glory. Our Heavenly Father, Who made the universe, is certainly able to strengthen us for the task. He has given us power in the Holy Spirit, Christ to dwell in our hearts, and strength derived from knowing how immense the love of Christ is. We must refrain from depending on our own abilities and realize that His power is already at work in us. Will God bless us with growth at Westport Road Church of Christ? I believe that He will, exceedingly abundantly beyond our wildest dreams. Randy Noblitt and his wife, Peggy, have attended Westport Road Church of Christ since 1987. He has served as a Shepherd for the last 5 years and looks forward to many more.
Come visit us at 4500 Westport Road, Louisville, Kentucky. Or, on the web, www.wrccfamily.org.