Monthly Archives: June 2017

For Tweens

Summer Nights Words and Deeds

Movies, service, sharing,challenges, and FUN

Fridays July 7, 14, 21, 28 6:30-9 PM

Register with Susan or call the church office 813-988-3514

We will explore how God’s Word influences our daily actions.  Each Summer Night will focus on different words from the Bible that ask us to contribute to God’s kingdom here on earth.  This theme will run throughout the evening’s activities in discussion, games, videos, and service activities. Children will be sent home with a challenge to continue good deeds throughout the week.

Freedom for …

20 mph on wet winding wayImagine if you could drive however fast you wanted without any consequence. No speed limits. No radar traps. And no speeding fines.

Of course a few people would use our freeways as their personal race tracks: treating other drivers, especially slower ones, as if they were competitors to be beaten, even run off the road. And others would drive so slowly as to become hazards, rolling barricades that without any warning suddenly choke traffic to squeeze around them if not to an inexplicable standstill.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans he supposes his opponents might ask: Since believers are free from the law, why not take full advantage of the freedom Christ won for us and enjoy life to the fullest as we understand it?

Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace?
— from Romans 6:15

In Paul’s time people believed everyone was a slave to some person or to some principal. If not  a literal slave, owned by someone, one might be a family member obedient to the head of the household who was in turn obedient to both to the principle of efficiently managing that household and to the local government. Thus to be freed from slavery to the law, might mean freedom from all owners.

In our time, instead of slavery, we might talk about being signed by a particular team, for example the Tampa Bay Rays of the New York Yankees. In Paul’s mind there are only two teams: Sin or God. One cannot be truly loyal to both.

If then we are freed from the law, can we consider ourselves free agents, able to discern for ourselves how we should act? Most certainly not, for to do so would make us equals to God, who alone sets the limits of good and evil.

Instead Paul challenges us to ask: What we have been freed for?

Consider the speeding example above again. Since we have been freed from the law we are thus freed for the kingdom of heaven. The speed we drive would consider the impact of our driving on every other driver on the road, on those living near the road, on the environmental impact of fuel consumed, and so forth. If traffic laws were perfectly efficient, speed limits would balance all of those factors with our personal needs to efficiently get from one place to the next to transact business. In such an ideal community, speed limits and traffic fines would control drivers by fear to drive at the same rate as those motivated by living for one another, that is living to advance the Kingdom of Heaven.

No longer present your members to sin as armaments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as armaments of righteousness.
— from Romans 6:13

I will have more to say about Romans 6:12-23 on Sunday, June 26th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Not Dead, Alive!

Everyone should at least watch a baptism by immersion. While I affirm infant baptism by sprinkling water on a child’s head, as it places the emphasis for salvation on the work of God, only baptism by immersion fully expresses the ideal of becoming dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

I did not experience my first baptism by immersion until I found myself standing waist deep in a mucky pond about to baptize a man who had insisted on immersion. Having been trained as a lifeguard, I had inklings of what could go wrong. At worst the candidate for baptism would panic, slip off the narrow ledge we stood on, and pull me under as well. Physical death was a real possibility, for both of us.

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

The challenges come after baptism, when followers of Jesus must turn from sin and walk in the newness of life.

This Sunday, June 25th, I will focus on Romans 6:1-11, providing a brief note for context, so that we might better understanding being dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Robert Shaw
Pastor, Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church

Character Building

Chocolate PieWhenever we went to a restaurant, my father would immediately flip the menu over and study the deserts. Once he knew which desert he wanted, he would plan his meal around that dessert. Then with desert in mind, he would suffer through eating his vegetables.

But Paul boasted of an even greater gift to look forward to in his letter to the Romans.

Therefore, since we were justified from faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

As if a guarantee of divine access to grace and hope in sharing in God’s glory were not enough, Paul continues to boast about the impact of boasting of God’s grace in this life. Usually we boast about what we have accomplished, but Paul urges us to boast about what God will accomplish through our sufferings.

Not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

I am convinced that my father lived his whole life the same way he ate dinners; knowing where he wanted to end up, he sought opportunities that would get him closer to his goal.

I will have more to say about Romans 5:1-8 and building character on Sunday, June 18th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Robert Shaw, Pastor

Credit Check

Some people think of church as a store where they can acquire faith, or at least the trappings of faith: marriage, baptism, prayers during crises, funerals.

Instead believers come to church week after week because they have recognized God, the giver of faith, acting in through their lives every day! We come to say thank you and to hear stories of how other people have experienced God in their lives, affirming our experiences.

Credit CardsBelievers come not to be justified, but because have seen the justifier at work in us. We know that God has checked our credit, how well we have obeyed the law, and found too many deficiencies to even list, yet has blessed us as righteous through our trust in Christ Jesus.

For this reason justification depends on faith,
in order that the promise may rest on grace
and be guaranteed to all Abraham’s descendants,
– Romans 4:16

I will have more to say about Romans 4:13-25 and God’s gift of faith on Sunday, June 11th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor