Jesus has just entered Jerusalem to begin preparations for the Passover and His own sacrifice on Calvary. Along the way He goes up to the temple where a confrontation with the religious leaders ensues. In Mark 11:17 Jesus says "Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer (or a house of prayer for all nations)? But ye have made it a den of thieves."
Jesus is referring to the passages from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11 as he quotes this to those who have turned the temple into something it was never meant to be. In Jewish life the temple was a very holy place to be regarded with the highest reverence and respect, for it was where the Hebrew went to do business with God. The priest would intercede on behalf of the people and confess the sins of a nation before God. Countless hours were given to prayer, and we have numerous touching examples in Scripture where God clearly spoke and was understood by the one seeking after God in the quietness of prayer while in His holy place. Though the temple lay in ruins in Isaiah 56, the prophet foresaw a new day, a time when the temple would be known as a house of prayer not only for the Jew, but for all nations.
Larry Richards points out in Every Prayer in the Bible that Isaiah's vision of the future is contrasted by Jesus with a description in Jeremiah of a different situation. God's people "oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow" (Jer. 7:6) and walk after other gods, and then dare to come to God's temple! What Israel had done was to turn the temple into a "den of thieves," a hiding place where robbers gathered to count their loot.
When you hear "house of prayer" what comes to your mind? A place set aside to worship God? A gathering of a loving family? Fiery preaching? Lots of busy ministry activities and programs? Boring routine? A den of thieves?
If yours is the typical American church, there is actually very little praying taking place. Our places of worship are known as and called many things besides a house of prayer. Yes, there are worship services, religious programs, fellowships, and all kinds of special activities taking place, but in all honesty the prayers offered up wouldn't fill a teacup. We must admit that to call our church a house of prayer sounds humble, spiritual, and moving, but our actions and schedules betray our prayerfulness.
In too many of our temples there is complaining, backbiting, boasting, lying, nitpicking, disrespect, arguing, cursing, and every manner of evil spilling from hearts and tongues. Our "holy places" are not known as houses of prayer to the brethren, to their children, and sadly not to the community. A house of prayer is a place so moved by the power of God's Holy Spirit that lives are regularly transformed, the miraculous is no stranger, and bold witness to Jesus' saving grace and mercy is ever present leading us like an army into our Jerusalem and beyond.
When asked their secret, those who experience the freshness and revival of the Lord each time they come together will respond quite simply—"Just pray"! Learn to commune with God in a house of prayer, and you will be amazed at what He has to say, and you'll be empowered by what He does.
While Reaching People Under 40
Eddie Hammett, author and Congregational Coach for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, will be at Villa Heights Baptist Church in Roanoke on Tuesday, May 1, 6-9 p.m., to share his workshop entitled Keeping People Over 60 While Reaching People Under 40.
Pre-register by contacting the Christian Leadership Network (Phone: 540.777.3014 or toll-free, 866.223.9344. E-mail: email@example.com). Cost is $5/person or $10 for your entire church group (covers cost of program, handouts, break snacks, etc.). Prepayment may be sent to the Christian Leadership Network, 4845 Cloverdale Road, Roanoke, VA 24019, or payment may be made on the night of the workshop. (Payable to "Christian Leadership Network").
Student Athletes for YHWH (SAY)
Sunday, April 29, 5-7 p.m.
Mentow Baptist Church
Wide receiver Tavarus Dove of the Liberty Flames will be sharing with our young people on April 29. Please help us get this word to everyone in your community and school. E-mail Rock Chocklett at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the SBA office to confirm attendance so everyone may plan for food.
Last month's youth event drew over 150 in attendance. We are grateful to those of you taking the time to reach out to Bedford area teens. Let's continue in faithfulness.
Thanks to Joyce Hawkins, Ellen Mitchell, Melinda Nichols, and John Woodford who helped get the 2006 SBA Annuals ready for distribution.
We would appreciate it if someone from the following churches would come by the office to pick up their copies: Bethel, Big Island, Morgans, Mountain View, North Bedford, Rainbow Forest, River Rock, Sedalia, Staunton, Terrace View, and Walnut Grove.
Quaker Baptist Church
LifeWay's "Game Day Central"
Saturday, April 21, 9 a.m.-12 noon
Cave Spring Baptist Church, Roanoke
Friday, May 4, 6-9 p.m.
Timber Ridge Baptist Church, Bedford
We are grateful to Mrs. Mary Thompson who has agreed to serve as Strawberry Association's VBS resource consultant. She is in the process of developing a list which gives each church's 2007 VBS dates and theme. We will publish the information she gathers in monthly newsletters as well as make it available at www.sbava.org. Church VBS directors may contact Mary by phone at 540.586.8212 if they are willing to share or would like to be the recipient of VBS decorations/materials.
Bethlehem's revival services were March 25-28 with Rev. Roger Roller as evangelist.
Big Island is seeking a part-time Youth Minister. Ministerial training/experience desired. Send resume to Youth Committee, Big Island Baptist Church, P.O. Box 348, Big Island, VA 24526.
Mount Hermon is seeking a part-time children's minister that can also work with a small group of youth. Interested persons may contact Mark Flores at 434.841.7022 and email@example.com.
On April 29, Big Island and Hunting Creek will participate (along with churches of the Peaks of Otter Baptist Association) in a Fifth Sunday Sing-along at Otterville Baptist Church.
Rev. Tim Mathia has announced his resignation (effective the middle of April) as pastor of Mentow. Correct dates for Mentow's revival services are May 20-23.
Mt. Zion has called Rev. William (Bill) Mitchell to be their pastor, effective March 1, 2007. Rev. Mitchell earned a master of Divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2005 and has served in several local area churches. He makes his home in Lynchburg.
The church will have Vacation Bible School, July 16-20, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
North Bedford is looking for a part time Youth Pastor. Mail resumes to P O Box 153, Forest, VA 24551, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information, telephone 434.525.7442.
Norwood will be having an Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 7, at 2:00 p.m. For the first time at Norwood, there will be a Sunrise Service on Easter Sunday, April 8, beginning at 6:45 a.m.
Pecks will have revival services May 20-23 with guest preacher Rev. Jim Moon. The Sunday morning service is at 11:00, and evening services are at 7:00.
Quaker will have revival services April 22-25 with Rev. Rick Dellinger bringing the messages. Special music and a nursery will be provided for all services.
July 23-27, 2007
"Nic at Night"
Registration fee: $25 per child
As you plan your summer activities, please keep this week in mind. (We ask that at least one adult [not necessarily the same one each day] from each participating church plan to accompany the children as they rotate through the various music opportunities that week.) More details will follow at our Website and in upcoming issues of The Spirit newsletter.
May 3 Woody Elliott (Bethel)
May 23 David & Tammy Williamson (Hunting Creek)
May 30 Calvin & Paula Sacra (North Bedford)
Mrs. Lois Stevens, WMU Director
1118 Roundtree Dr., Bedford 24523
Women on Mission: Thaxton will lead devotionals at Oakwood Manor for April. Sedalia will lead them in May. Palestine will host the April birthday party for residents of Bedford County Nursing Home; Flint Hill will host it in May.
Thursday evening, April 26, 2007
Thaxton Baptist Church
Beginning at 5:15 p.m., a snack supper ($5 per person) will be served in the fellowship hall. (As a matter of courtesy, please call a meal count in to Lois Stevens, 540.586.7409, or email her at LStevens44@netzero.com, no later than Wednesday, April 18.) The meeting will begin at 6:00 and conclude by 8:00. Karen Hughes, Volunteer Services Coordinator for the Bedford Community Resource Center, will be guest speaker. The mission project will be to collect items for the Bedford Community Christmas Station. The following NEW items are needed: clothing for infants/girls/boys/teens, gifts, toys, basketballs, footballs, soccer balls, board games, household items, and food.
The cross stitch gifts for the Albania House in Athens, Greece, are on their way. With Bedford, Quaker, Shady Grove, and Thaxton participating in this mission project, we were able to send 43 cross stitch pieces.
The theme is "yoU-turn" and is based on Romans 12:1-2. Seeking to challenge students to reach their non-Christian friends, the event will include a challenge rally on Wednesday, special evangelism training for students on Thursday, and conclude with a "harvest rally" on Friday. Justin Lookadoo from McKinney, Texas, will be the featured speaker. Worship leader will be Phil Baquie of Nashville, Tennessee. The conference is FREE to all students and leaders. For additional info, contact Bob Hetherington at the Roanoke Valley Baptist Association, 540.366.7631, or Ken Dibble, Youth Ministry Strategist, at 800.255.2428, ext. 2255. Web address is www.yec.org.
Nine churches were represented at one of the two Treasurers Workshop offered by the association on March 22. We thank Trinity Church for hosting the event and for their help with refreshments. We also appreciate Wanda DeLong's willingness to share her knowledge and experience with the participants.
Church treasurers (and others involved with finances in their churches) who did not attend may stop by the office to pick up a packet of materials used in the workshop.
Survivors of sexual assault face many challenges following an assault. Church members who come in contact with survivors should listen to what is being said and be supportive. Having the support of a trusted friend, relative, or church member is often the most important piece of the healing process.
Each year, the nation recognizes April as Sexual Violence Awareness Month. We pause to remember the pain of those who have been victimized, and to recognize the strength of those who carry on.
In Virginia, one in four women and one in eight men will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetimes. (Randomized telephone survey conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University and the Virginia Department of Health based on two national studies (April 2003, Virginia Department of Health) There are likely people within your congregation who have been directly affected by sexual assault. Family members, friends, and other loved ones within the congregation may also be affected by the assault.
It is often the practice within the church to ignore the issue of sexual violence. The time has come to speak out against sexual violence in the church, to acknowledge the pain and suffering of so many, and to offer a safe haven for victims and their loved ones.
What is the role of the church in the lives of survivors? Faith provides survivors with the comfort of Christ's unconditional love, the acceptance of Christ's grace and mercy, and a hope for the future. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."
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