A Word from the Pastor: The Rough Journey
Right after Christmas, we McCallas took off on a road trip for Texas. It had been a taxing fall semester for everyone, and the lure of temperatures in the 70s on the beaches of Padre Island was too much to ignore. So, we loaded up our van with snacks, movies, and sunblock and headed south.
And Corpus Christi did not disappoint. The weather was terrific: sunny-but-not-too-sunny, light breezes, and daytime temperatures in the upper 70s. My only complaint was that it was too humid for my liking. Sad, I know. Also in the bonus column, Corpus Christi and the beaches of Padre Island were not busy at all. It was a quiet, refreshing destination.
But the getting there was another story. It is approximately 1,100 miles from Atlantic to Corpus Christi, or about 17 hours of driving time. Wide open highways, busy urban freeways, creeping bumper-to-bumper traffic, wind, snow, and rain. We saw it all. From Waco through Austin and San Antonio, it is nearly continuous urban traffic. We saw several recent accidents, including a three-car pileup of people who were probably not paying attention and following each other too closely. We also saw a beautiful new car that had just been side-swiped by a large dump truck. And most harrowingly, we were nearly side-swiped by a car doing the famously dangerous far-right lane to far-left lane lurch.
We made it, but it wasn’t easy.
And I think that such a road trip is an analogy for the Christian life.
We are all on a journey, and we will make it by God’s grace. The destination will be great: Paradise, rest, and basking in the light of God’s presence. Kind of like Padre Island minus the humidity. But no one promises it will be easy along the journey to our heavenly home.
In fact, it’s just the opposite. Over and over, Jesus promised his followers that they would face persecution, hardship, tribulation, and trouble in this life. “If they persecuted me,” he said rather bluntly, “they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20 NIV) He never promised that the Christian life would be all roses and candies. On the highway to heaven, there are many potholes, bumps, and dangers. And they will be difficult for us. But because of God’s gracious faithfulness, they will not prevent us from our destination.
Jesus spoke plainly: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV) All of the trouble we face in life–the headwinds and persecutions–are subordinate to the joy of the kingdom of God toward which we journey. With confidence, we can claim the hymn’s words as our own: “Through many dangers, toils and snares / I have already come, / ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far / And grace will lead me home.”
Likewise, we confess with the apostles’ inspired words that despite the roadblocks of this world, we will make our destination: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.
The Life of Our Church
Online or In-Person Services
Please join us for in-person worship! You can also worship virtually through our YouTube channel. We will stream the service live, and the service will be archived after that. Please visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel to discover our videos:
Follow Paul’s Journeys
Ray is organizing a pilgrimage to Turkey and Greece this summer to trace the steps of the apostle Paul. June 16-26, 2022. Destinations include Istanbul, Pergamum, Ephesus, Smyrna, Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, Athens, and Corinth. The cost will be $4,551 plus taxes and fees. To see a detailed itinerary and to register (by May 1), please visit the Web site. And please share the word!
Our deacons will gather after worship on Sunday, February 13.
Atlantic Food Pantry
Please remember to support our local food pantry, either directly or by dropping off goods here at our sanctuary.
We will be studying the Revelation to John beginning January 23. Bring your Bible and a friend. Sundays at 9:30 a.m. We will be studying 2 & 3 John and Jude this fall.
American Baptist Women’s Ministries
ABWM will meet on Wednesday, February 16, at 1:30 p.m.
Pioneer Bible Translators
Here is a brief update from the Smiths:
2021 has been a whirlwind year for us! We began the year with our vision trip to Yotumwi and Kondu, along with finishing our training. As the year ends, we’ve now spent 4 months in our new home and have begun the exciting journey of language and culture acquisition, relationship building, translation ministry and trauma healing. By God’s grace, we’ve accomplished quite a lot in this short time!
Here’s how you can pray for their work:
+ Please pray with us for wisdom in purchasing a vehicle in the first quarter of 2022. This is a major decision with many potential hardships.
We have an upcoming trip to Kondu early next year that will pave the way for effective scripture distribution of the published Kondulese scriptures. + Please pray for God’s blessing on this trip and our meetings.
+ We are also seeking wisdom and provision for the future needs of the Kondulese translation project. We are looking especially into the areas of literacy development, scripture distribution, and scripture impact. There are similar growth goals for the Trauma Healing ministry. Please pray as we seek God’s wisdom and provision for these things.
We are constantly seeking God’s blessing on our language and culture acquisition.
+ Health is always a concern, both for us and our teammates. There are many potential sicknesses that can derail our progress in various ways. Please pray for our protection and quick recovery from illnesses.
+ There are many more pressing needs among our host-country neighbors than we anticipated. We are seeking wisdom and provision to provide for those in responsible and sustainable ways.
+ Pray for our visa process. Our work visa has been ‘deferred’; this is not necessarily bad news. But we need to have these challenges resolved within the next few months.
We celebrate the Lord’s Supper every first Sunday of the month. We will be observing it next on February 6. And if you are watching worship on YouTube, you are certainly encouraged to participate at home with your own elements.
First United Presbyterian Church is hosting an Ash Wednesday service to kick off the Lenten season: March 2 at 6:00 p.m. at 616 Chestnut Street.
From the Atlantic Public Library
VIP Connections is a new social club meeting Tuesday mornings at the library starting Feb. 1. While it is intended for the retired & senior population, anyone is welcome to come. Some weeks we’ll have a short presentation or play games; some weeks we’ll just socialize and drink coffee. In February we’ll talk about the library (2/1), learn about SAD and have free blood pressure checks (2/8), talk about the Great Backyard Bird Count (2/15), and chat with Jessica about Angels Care Home Health (2/22).
On Feb 10 we’re hosting an online presentation from psychologist and author Dr. Doreen Dodgen-Magee based on her book Restart: Designing a Healthy Post-Pandemic Life. Find the library on Facebook.
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