From the Pastor’s Desk

By Rev. John Shatananda

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ.

We live in an evil world. There aremany ups and downs. What is our reaction response to these ups and downs andalso when the outlook is bad?

In the early days people used to crossAmerica on the horse back. A party of explorers came to a particular river. Itwas the spring of the year and the waters were turbulent and deep. They had tocross the river, the midstream. One of the riders was almost overcome withdizziness. Seeing the swirling waters on both the sides he began to sway in thesaddle. His friend saw him struggling and then shouted, “Look up man! Look up!”The dizzy traveler heeded the command and regained his balance.

Lookingup is also what kept Peter from nearly drowning! It is because he got his eyesoff the Lord and onto himself, he began to sink. How much are we like him?Instead of resting on the Word of God and His promises, we start viewing theboisterous billows of life, the treacherous winds of adversity and our owninadequacy to cope with our problems. As a result, we become panic-stricken. Weare bound to sink if we look around, forgetting to look at the Lord. We are notto go by our feeling, if we do that, we will sink. But when the outlook is bad,try the up look; keep your eyes on Jesus. Peter tried the up look, he looked atJesus – He did not sink.



From the Sunday School Teacher’s Desk

By Mrs. Ranjana Brownson

THE LAST WORDS

(Psalm 19:12-14)

“I hate you!” Julie screamed as she ran outthe house. She was glad to see the school bus coming around the corner. Sheclimbed on quickly before her mother could call her back, but she knew shewould have to answer for her words after school.

Later, Julie''s anger began to go away, but shedidn''t want to lose it. When she felt it weakening, she would feed it bitterthoughts. Why does she always say no? Why can''t she be like Connie''s mother?Her mom lets her do what she wants to do.

At lunchtime Julie scowled. Thanking God forher food didn''t fit her mood, so she skipped it. Feeling guilty, she pulled herfavourite sandwich from her lunchbox. Tucked in the sandwich bag was a note,“Julie, I love you. Mother.” Julie felt a bit ashamed, but not too much. She''sjust feeling guilty for not letting me go to Lana''s party, she remindedherself.

By the time school was dismissed, Julie hadmade a long list of complaints to present to her mother. She had to havesomething to justify her angry words that morning. She was thinking about themwhen she heard sirens scream and saw a fire engine roar past the bus. The kidswatched and talked excitedly as the bus followed slowly. When Julie saw thelights flashing in front of her house, terror gripped her. She stumbled fromthe bus and ran wildly up the street. Was her house on fire? Where was hermother?

Frantically, she searched the crowd. Oh, therewas mother, standing on the edge of the crowd, watching the firemen pour wateronto the burning storage building behind the house. Sobbing, Julie ran into hermother''s arms. “Oh, Mama,” she whispered, “I''m sorry! I love you!

 

HOW ABOUT YOU?

Do you ever leave home with sharp wordshanging between you and your family? Do you feed those feelings of anger withbitter thoughts? Right now, make up your mind to stop.

 

WatchYour Words



Member’s Column

ONCEWORTHLESS, NOW PRECIOUS

What does your name mean?

Do your names significantly reflecttheir meaning?

From Useless to Useful

Onesimus had a similar experience withhis name. Onesimus was a slave who had stolen from his master, Philemon, andran away.

He later came to faith in Christthrough the apostle Paul’s ministry. In fact, Paul refers to himself asOnesimus’s “father” because Paul directly shared Christ with him (Philemon 10).The book of Philemon is a letter Paul wrote to tell Philemon  that Onesimus had come to saving faith inChrist.

In the letter, Paul asks that Philemonallow Onesimus to return to Philemon without fear of punishment, even though hedeserved severe punishment for his disobedience. Paul asks Philemon to acceptOnesimus back as a brother in Christ.

This perhaps is why he was parted fromyou for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservantbut, as a beloved brother — especially to me, but how much more to you, both inthe flesh and in the Lord. (Phil. 15–16)

Onesimus’s name means “useful.” Pauluses a play on words with his name when he writes, “Formerly he was useless toyou, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me” (Philemon 11). Once auseless, rebellious slave, Onesimus became useful through the saving andtransforming grace of God.

From Many, Onesimus

Philemon is a tiny book, and oftenoverlooked, but it is powerful with gospel truth. It reminds us that only inChrist do we find our true selves, our true identity. No matter what names ourparents gave us at birth, or friends called us ,or what we’ve given ourselves,we become who we were made to be when God calls us by name. When he calls us tobe His own. When He calls us to be His child.

The truth is, before Christ, we wereOnesimus. We were useless. We were rebellious thieves and runaway slaves.Deserving punishment for our sins, we feared returning home to our Master. Wefelt ashamed, worthless, and unloved.

The Son of God took on flesh and paidthe penalty we were due at the cross. He wiped the slate clean, clothed us withhis righteousness, and allowed us to return home to the Father without fear,and with full acceptance, covered by the perfect works of Christ.

Seeing Jesus in the Mirror

Paul mirrored the gospel when hestepped in as a substitute for Onesimus. “If you consider me your partner,receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes youanything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: Iwill repay it” (Philemon 17–19).

Because of Paul, Onesimus was welcomedback into Philemon’s home. Because of Jesus, we are welcomed into God’s. MartinLuther put it this way: “As Christ does for us with God the Father, so doesPaul with Philemon for Onesimus. We are all God’s Onesimi.”

We all have names we’ve been calledand names we’ve called ourselves. We all bear shame over things we’ve done orthings that have been done to us. The book of Philemon reminds us that when weencounter the gospel of grace, all of that is changed forever. Everything thatwas past is long gone. We are created anew, given a new name and a newidentity.

The Forgiven Forgive

Through faith in the perfect life,sacrificial death, and triumphant resurrection of Christ, we are brought fromdeath to life. We are changed from useless to useful. We are now children ofthe living God. In Christ, we find our true selves as Onesimi of God. We findour home in his kingdom and our future as heirs.

Through Christ, we have become who wewere created to be.

The book of Philemon reminds us thatnot only are we like Onesimus, but we also have other Onesimi in our life. Thegospel not only changes our status and makes us new; it also changes how welove others.

When we have been wronged or wounded,we need to extend the same forgiveness that we have received through Christ. AsPaul pointed out to Philemon, we’ve been forgiven for much more than the sinsothers have committed against us (Phil. 19).

The story of Onesimus and Philemon isalso our story — the story of Jesus transforming us from useless to useful,from wandering runaways to His beloved.