I was nineteen when I came into the Catholic Church. Over the years since that day, I've converted thousands of times. Oh yes, it wasn't a one-time event for me. I didn't experience a lightning strike of pure, holy, and enduring faith that immediately and forevermore transformed me into a perfect follower of Jesus Christ. No "road to Damascus" moment for me. I was baptized and confirmed on a Saturday afternoon and received my first Holy Communion at Mass the next morning. And on Monday, I went right back to my sinning ways. It wasn't the Church's fault by any means. Good spiritual Mother that she is, I had everything I needed for holiness in the Sacraments and in the support of parish life. It wasn't the fault of my family or friends either: they had supported and affirmed my becoming Catholic. No, my sins were - and are - no one's fault but my own.
The word "convert" comes from the Latin and means "to turn around." When I converted to my Catholic faith, I turned around from the sinful road I'd been travelling and gave myself to Jesus. I turned away from sin to embrace the mercy and love of Jesus Christ. I turned away from sin and turned to the Gospel. I turned away from self and turned to Jesus. As a child I had seen people in my protestant church as they went forward at the end of the service to "get saved." Sometimes they knelt down and prayed with the pastor. Sometimes they cried. Afterwards, people would gather around them and shake their hands, congratulating them on the moment of their faith. It didn't make sense to me, even at that age, that Jesus did the "saving" but folks offered their congratulations to the sinner. And there was a finality to the "altar call" moment. Once saved, always saved, they taught. Hmmm. I came to Christ in His presence in the Holy Eucharist. He called to me in the sacrifice of the Mass. He spoke to me in the writings and testimonies of the early Church fathers and in the Gospels of the New Testament. I saw Him revealed in the lives of the Saints and in the good and holy priests who taught me at university. God's mercy pursued me until I was baptized and confirmed. I converted. I turned to Christ and every day, I convert anew.
He calls to me in my sin and I turn to Him once more. He speaks to my sinful heart and once again, I announce my guilt and beg for His mercy and forgiveness. I make my confession and I convert again and again. I sin and am ashamed and He comes to me in my self-loathing and begs me to look at His face, there on the Cross. His outstretched arms hold me to His Sacred Heart and He whispers His love and forgiveness. I convert again. My salvation is a journey and not just a past event. Jesus has saved me. Jesus is saving me. Jesus will save me. I hear Him and I convert. My sin drowns His voice and deadens my heart. He never stops calling to me. In my sin, He loves me. In my sin, He died for me. In the dark abyss of my foul sin, His hand leads me to Golgotha and once more, I convert.
In this holiest week of the year, as we journey with Christ towards His passion, death, and resurrection, let's be aware of His presence in our lives. Pray that Christ will give you the faith to know you are completely dependent upon Him. Ask Him to reveal His great love for you in His sacrifice of the Cross. Turn away from your sins and beg His forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession. Be a convert in your own way and return again to Him. Stay with Him on Thursday as He shares the first Eucharist with the Apostles. Pray with Him in the garden as He struggles and fears what is to come, submitting perfectly to His Father's will. Walk with Him in chains to His trials and scourging. Share His sadness as St. Peter denies knowing Him. On Friday, stand with St. John and His Blessed Mother at the foot of the cross, and know the depth of His love revealed. This week we convert again from our sins and glory in the greatest love the world has ever known. Love, lifted up on a cross that has saved you, is saving you and will save you. Alleluia!
"...like the ooze of virgin oil crushed in the press of God’s hands, an anointing, a yielding, a yes.” - Gerard Manley Hopkins, English poet and Catholic convert (1844-1889)
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Shannon Smith, Pathway Baptist Church
I just want to thank the Lord for another glorious Sunday! We were blessed beyond measure. It’s so good to be in the house of the Lord and to have the honor to worship Him. If we are having such a wonderful time praising and worship our Lord and Savior here I can’t imagine how much better it’s going to be when we all get to Heaven. Are you ready to go? If not it’s as simple as ABC. A.) Ask God to come into your heart and forgive you your sins. B.) Believe that he did and that He’s coming again. C.) Confess Him as your Lord and Savior. Lay aside your chains of bondage and begin a new life with Christ from this day forward.
Sunday Morning was another great service. We started off with a baby dedication for Lucas Mower this is the son of Andrew & Samantha Mower. Following with the choir singing “Whom Shall I Fear” and then Bro. Mark sang “Till The Storm Passes By” assisted by the choir ending with “Peace Speaker” sang by Rhonda Cawood and Tiffany Underdown and assisted by the choir. Bro. Mark continued his series on “Seeking the Face of God” ever since we have been in this series God has been faithful to show up and we have seen an out break of revival at Pathway with souls being saved and lives being changed. Today his points were 1.) Seek His Face In His Challenge. 2.) Seek His face in His change. 3.) Seek His Face in His Concept. Many were moved by the Holy Spirit and responded. At the close of the service we had the privilege of seeing Brian Richardson and Matt Scealf get baptized what an amazing work God is doing in these two new converts lives. Please continue to pray for these men as they have began their new life with Christ.
Sunday Evening – Well let’s just say there are no words to describe what took place at Pathway Sunday night. The power of God fell down on our service and we just fell in worship to God. Many were touched by the power of God and it was one of those services that no one wanted to go home we all just wanted to stay and continue to worship Jesus! It’s amazing at what God can do in a church and in the life of a Christian when we step back and get out of His way and let Him work.
I want to challenge you this week to let someone see Jesus in you. If you were standing on trail in front of a jury would there be enough evidence in your life to convict you of being a Christian? You make think you can’t make a difference but to some you may make all the difference in their life.
Our revival starts this coming Sunday night April 8th at 6:00pm with Bro. Tony Wilson and Monday – Thursday at 7:00pm. Please make plans to attend.
Please continue to remember all the sick and all those on our prayer list. And we look forward to seeing you at Pathway. God bless you all.
By His Grace.
Charlotte McGuffey, Salem Baptist Church
Sunday was another beautiful day that the Lord gave us to enjoy. Dr. Marvin Jones continued his series on Moses.
We sure missed Jack Leigh on Sunday. He spent several days in the hospital last week but is home now. He really needs our prayers. We also missed Charlie Bates. He is to have knee surgery next week. Jerry Watkins is to have bladder surgery April 3. We pray for a good outcome for him. Boyd Kittle is recovering from thyroid surgery. Brenda Bridges is undergoing tests to determine what her surgery will involve. Pray for these. Doris Lake is having spine problems, Sherry Barbee – lupus, Brenda Callahan, staph infection and all our cancer patients need our prayers. Remember Fae Ensley who is getting weaker.
Bill Davidson finished his treatments last week. We are happy for him and believe his tests in two months will show him to be cancer free.
The Easter sunrise service will be held at 7:15 a.m. in the old cemetery at Salem. Breakfast will follow in the fellowship hall. If you are bringing bacon or sausage, please cook it at home to save time.
The egg hunt for the children will be held from 12:30-1:30 on Saturday. Children need to bring their basket to put the eggs in.
We are giving our offerings for the Annie Armstrong observance through April 15. These offerings are for our North American ministries or home missionaries as we are accustomed to saying.
Mel McGuffey visited relatives in Arkansas last week.
Chubb and Linda Blevins have relatives visiting from Maine.
Best wishes to Mr. and Mrs. Ben Lewis who were married at Salem on Sunday afternoon with a reception in the fellowship hall.
We are glad that Charles and Shirley Tankersley recently got moved into their new home in Cherokee Valley after the tornado destroyed their home last year.
The folks from Mt. Perea Baptist Church in Ringgold held a groundbreaking for their new building on Saturday, March 31. They have been meeting in the American Legion Post building since their building was destroyed by the tornado. We look forward to seeing their new building take shape.
Jack and Barbara Ensley and Marie Massengill attended the breakfast for the RHS class of ’47 and the Combustion Credit Union meeting last week.
Combustion retirees, remember your semi-annual meeting is this Thursday, April 5 at the Senior Citizens Building in East Ridge. Bring a covered dish and a big appetite.
Emma Jo Davis, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church
Thank The Lord for a wonderful Mission's Conference last week. Bro. Stinnett Ballew preached each night some great messages. It seems that anything that can happen does when you have a mission's Conference. We are thankful for the ones that were able to come be with us, especially our visitors.Bro. Burnett and family, he is the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church and Mike Cline and family also from Ebenezer. We were glad to have them with us and the Missionary families, Bro. Michael Lyons going to France and Jonathan Marks going to Japan.
The International supper was very good, thanks to all the ladies that tried some new dishes from around the world and the ones that fixed good American food like chicken and dumplings and the like. It was all very good and I think everyone enjoyed it. The storm that came up about that time may have kept some away. I got there just before it started with the down pour and the hail. Bro. Ballew said we cooked up a storm maybe that is what happened.
Easter is this Sunday.There will be an egg hunt on Saturday, April 7th at 1:00 to 3:00 for ages 2-9. There will be Sunrise Services at several churches Sunday Morning. I go to the one with Ringgold First Baptist.That service is always a special blessing. I'm sure you can find one near you, if you would like to go. Happy Easter to all of you and think on what Easter means to us, that we don't have a dead lord but we have a risen Saviour.
Vacation Bible School will be July 16-20. Sonlight Express is the theme for this year. Come out and join in the fun.
Continue to pray for Dianne Hullender and family as she didn't get the report that we had hoped and prayed for from the tests. She will be having treatments of chemotherapy and radiation soon so be sure and pray for them. Emma Treadway will be having surgery next week. Pray that this will help the pain. We were ask to pray for a young lady that has cancer in several places in her body. I don't know her name but the Lord does, so pray for her when you pray.
We send condolences to the Touchstone family in the death of Evelyn Touchstone who passed away Thursday March 29. She had been in a Nursing Home for some time.
We send Condolences to the Swanson-Long Family in the death of their loved one, Wesley Swanson. Someone said he never walked here but was sure he was walking in heaven. Wesley was 75 years old.He was Jewel Mitchell's nephew.
Also to the Tinker Family in the death of Jonathan Tinker on Saturday March 31. Please pray for these families.
Others on our prayer list are:Leon and Emma Lou Brown,Lula Petty, Ellie Pitts,Billy Mitchell, Louise Clark, Alma Bryson, Faye Robinson, Arthur and Dorothy Longwith, Thurman and Norma Headrick,Jimmy and Joyce Blassingame, Katherine Plemons, Bernice Orr,Benny Wilson,Kim Owens, Holly Stockburger,Polly Wells, Our Military, Our Missionaries and Our Nation.
Happy Birthday Wishes to Wanda Hill and Margaret Perry, April 9.
Happy Anniversary Wishes to Jason and Julie McCurdy, April 8.