HE WHO DOES NOT LOVE DOES NOT KNOW GOD

If someone were to ask me to describe the entire Bible in one phrase – one phrase that captures the very essence of the bible in its entirety, I’d say: “It is the story of God’s love.” God created humanity out of love. He provides and cares for us out of love. He disciplines us out of love. He sent Jesus to save us out of love. He commands us to love one another because He is love. Frankly, I am not sure I have the right words to talk about agape love and do it justice, given the current unfortunate circumstances in our country. Therefore, I’s like to share with you a few verses I’ve been thinking about this past week and let the word of God speak for itself.

1 John 4: 7-11
            “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4: 20 – 21
            “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

Matthew 22: 37 – 38
            “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Proverbs 31: 8 – 9
            “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”

Matthew 25: 41 – 45
            “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
            “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’  “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

Matthew 5: 43 – 48
            “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

            I particularly love the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 5: 43 – 48 because they challenge our modern day understanding of love and who we ought to love. Jesus says “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Who do you consider as your neighbor? Join us online Sunday morning as we talk about this subject.

Worship With Us Online May 24th

Join us for a celebration of our Lord as we worship him with song, prayer, communion, teaching, and giving. These are things we are told to do each week and even though we can’t be together in the church building, we can be together in our worship.

If you have a prayer request, you can send those in live during the worship service. Send an email to bulletin@waterburychurch.org or you can send a text message to 203.936.7269

To join our online service starting at 10:30am, head to either of these places:

Church Web Site: We’ll have the service streaming online right from the front page of our website at https://www.waterburychurch.org.

Youtube Live: You can also catch our service on Youtube Live, and the link for that channel is https://www.youtube.com/c/waterburychurchofchrist

Do not use the Zoom link on Sunday morning, only those leading worship will be allowed into Zoom, everyone else should find and watch the live stream at the places listed above.

Giving: Our electronic giving site is available at the church website, go to www.waterburychurch.org/giving to send in your contribution while we’re not together.

Please continue to pray for our community and for our church family to stay strong as we fight this virus.

BEING TOGETHER

I have five siblings (4 sisters and 1 little brother), and we all grew up in a small confined space. I love my sisters and little brother deeply, but there were times when we did not quite love each other that well – those of you with siblings might understand exactly what I am saying. We were always on top of each other, fighting with one another, and always in one another’s business. There was no sense of privacy because we got to spend, what felt like, too much time together and we did not have our own personal designated space. Even at school we couldn’t escape each other’s presence. Although there were half a dozen of us, our lives felt somewhat like the movie “Cheaper by the dozen.”

After graduating middle school, I received a scholarship for boarding school, and I can unashamedly admit that my siblings and I were elated. They had one less annoyance to deal with, and I felt like I was free of them for the first time. “Yes, I get to have my own room and not see your faces every day,” I told them. I know this may sound harsh to some of you, but that was the mind of an introverted teenage boy. Needless to say, boarding school was a challenge because I never understood how much of my academic success in middle school was attributed to the rivalry between me and my siblings. In our home, it was always about: who was going to get their homework done the fastest so we could have access to the TV first. I know this may not mean much to our young people nowadays, but we only had one TV in our house growing up (old school TV with antennas) with no Wi-Fi, no phones, and no tablets. Trust me, it wasn’t the apocalypse. Our rivalry was about: who was going to get the best grade? Who was going to be the first one not to get in trouble with mom and dad by the end of the week? Who was going to be the first one to snitch when mom and dad got home from work? Who was better at this, who was better at that? We spent a lot of time feuding and pushing each other, and I believe all the rivalry strengthened our bond as we learned how to take care and look out for each other.

Being at boarding school, it did not take long for me to realize that I somewhat missed the dynamics and structure of my family. I didn’t have a cell phone until I got to college (how can a teenager make it through high school without something as essential as a cellphone, I know right); so, it was not easy talking to them. We didn’t have FaceTime (Wait! What? No facetime), we didn’t have text (Hold up, wait a minute), we didn’t have social media (So, what exactly we do with    our time?). Trust me, life was different for a teenager back then where I grew up. Therefore, my siblings and I we actually missed each other. When I got to go home every other week-end, or they got to come see me on campus, we actually looked forward to those moments and enjoyed being together for once. We had limited time together, so we cherished every moment we got to spend together. What am I saying? I am grateful for technology, especially during this pandemic, but nothing will ever replace a human touch, a hug, sharing a meal with someone, exchanging a laugh while playing together.

Life was meant to be lived together, and I know we are limited as to how we can be together physically; however, I hope and pray we are all longing to be in each other’s presence again. Having been away from my Church family, my community, friends, colleagues and extended family members for so long has afforded me enough time to reflect on the importance of all these people in my life. There is a reason why the bible has so many verses that talk about the importance of being together. Many of us know these verses as the “One Another” passages, such as: love another (1 John 4: 7), live in harmony with one another (Romans 12: 16), build up one another (Romans 14: 19), accept one another (Romans 15: 7), care for one another (1 Cor 12: 25), comfort one another (1 Thess. 4: 18), pray for one another (James 5: 16). There are many other “One Another” passages that I could mention, but I hope these few deepen the desire within you to be together again physically.

I want to leave you with one more verse that I believe sum up the essence of this article: 3 John 1: 13 – 15, “I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to write it with pen and ink. For I hope to see you soon, and then we will talk face to face. Peace be with you. Your friends here send you their greetings. Please give my personal greetings to each of our friends there” (NLT).

Grace, Peace, and Love
Donny Pierre

Worship with us Online May 17th

Join us for a celebration of our Lord as we worship him with song, prayer, communion, teaching, and giving. These are things we are told to do each week and even though we can’t be together in the church building, we can be together in our worship.

If you have a prayer request, you can send those in live during the worship service. Send an email to bulletin@waterburychurch.org or you can send a text message to 203.936.7269

To join our online service starting at 10:30am, head to either of these places:

Church Web Site: We’ll have the service streaming online right from the front page of our website at https://www.waterburychurch.org.

Youtube Live: You can also catch our service on Youtube Live, and the link for that channel is https://www.youtube.com/c/waterburychurchofchrist

Giving: Our electronic giving site is available at the church website, go to www.waterburychurch.org/giving to send in your contribution while we’re not together.

Please continue to pray for our community and for our church family to stay strong as we fight this virus.

DO NOT TAKE YOUR PRAISE LIGHTLY

            As disciples of Christ we tend to place a greater value on reading Scripture and prayer than we do praise. Praising God is as powerful and as important in the life of a believer. The Bible says in Romans 15: 4 that God’s Word provides encouragement and hope. The apostle Paul taught us in his letter to the Church in Philippi that prayer can relieve stress and anxiety, because it helps us relinquish all control over to God (Phil. 4: 6 – 7) and we no longer worry about the things that trouble us (Matt 6: 25 – 34). Also, the Bible describes the Word of God and prayer as part of the “Armor of God” that all soldiers of Christ must wear to go to war against the enemy (Eph 6: 10 – 20). Let us not forget Hebrews 4: 12, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The Word of God and prayer are immensely powerful in our spiritual journey. However, let us not take our “Praise and Worship” lightly, because it is equally important to God.
            In her book, “Music Medicine: The Science and Spirit of Healing Yourself with Sound,” Christine Stevens discovered through clinical research that singing or listening to music can help reduce stress, prevent illness, and even strengthen the immune system. Christine Stevens (MSW) is a therapist who often used music to help her patients heal. If scientific data can prove the benefits of singing and listening to music in therapy, we can rest assured that the same is true for believers singing praises unto God. When we are praising God with songs and Hymns, we are also praying and recalling scriptures in the process. Many of our worship songs are literally taken from the Bible. For example, At the Waterbury Church of Christ we love to sing “The Greatest Command.” “Love one another, for love is of God. He who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love…” Some of you cannot see these words without singing the melody, and we all know where these words come from: 1 John 4: 7 – 11. “As the Deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you,” that is from Psalm 42: 1. There are many more songs I could mention to show you the correlation between singing, scripture and prayer. Singing is about expressing our gratitude to a good God for who He is, what he is done, and what He is about to do (Psalm 13). Singing is about being in the presence of the Lord and understanding that we are filled with the Holy Spirit that intercedes on our behalf. In the book of Acts 16: 25 – 26 we read of Paul and Silas being arrested and thrown in prison. While they were in prison, the Bible says “They were praying and singing hymns to God… suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.” HALLELUJAH PRAISE THE MIGHTY NAME OF JESUS. That verse gets me excited every time. Praise has the power to break every chain that is holding us down: chains of depression, chains of anxiety, chains of fear and anger. God can work on our behalf when we are praising Him. God defeated King Jehoshaphat’s enemies as they were praising HIM. Listen to what the Bible says in 2 Chronicles 20: 22 “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.”. Brothers and sisters let us value “Singing and Praise” in our lives more than ever before, because the enemy is not happy when we are singing praises unto God.
            Although we may not be together in the Church building to sing, we can still worship and fellowship in our own home because God is always worthy to be praised. Remember, when Israel was taken captive by the Babylonians away from their home and the temple, they found it hard to sing praises unto God in a foreign land (Psalm 137: 1 – 4). However, God wanted them to understand they ought to praise Him regardless of where they were in life. Social distancing might be keeping us apart physically, social distancing might be keeping us away from the Church building, but it cannot stop us from lifting our spirit and our voices singing and praising our Lord and Savior. As long as we have breath within us, we have the means to praise (Psalm 150: 6).

PRAISE THE MIGHTY NAME OF JESUS
Donny Pierre

A Lasting Legacy of Faith: 2 Timothy 1

            As a parent, one of my greatest responsibilities is to “prepare my children for adulthood,” and I would like to believe all parents highly regard this responsibility as part of their legacy. We all received some type of legacy from our parents, whether that legacy is one that will last through several generations is another question. The Bible itself teaches us that “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children” (Proverbs 13: 22).
            Blinded by the materialistic aspect of our culture, most legacies tend to revolve around money/finances. For example, whenever we hear the word inheritance we are most likely thinking about money, business, real estate, or some type of financial asset. Please, I am not so cynical to think that parents shouldn’t leave a financial legacy for their children in order to help them have better lives. However, the best legacy one can leave his family is a legacy of faith – one that is rooted in love and built with grace. In 2 Timothy 1, we can clearly see how Paul is praising Lois and Eunice for leaving a lasting legacy of faith for Timothy. Lois, Eunice’s mother, played a major role in her spiritual upbringing and so did Eunice in Timothy’s spiritual walk with God. This week-end as we celebrate Mother’s Day, I want us to take the time to appreciate the spiritual role that mothers and grandmothers have played in the lives of so many in the Church. The time spent teaching their kids how to pray, reading scripture to them and making sure they understand the importance of Church family/assembly.
            In the Old Testament, God made it clear to the nation of Israel that it was their responsibility to leave a legacy of faith to the next generation. Before entering the Promised Land, Moses told the Israelites “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up” (Deuteronomy 6: 4 – 7). This is a very well-known piece of Scripture in the Torah (The Jewish Bible/Canon) – one that many Jews still recite today in their Shema (Jewish Prayer). They understand the importance of passing on a lasting legacy of faith to the next generation. As a matter of fact, in the book of Judges 2: 10 the bible says “After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.” There is a great danger when this legacy of faith is not passed on to the next generation, because they will end up forsaking God altogether and live according to their own evil desires (Judges 2: 11). This responsibility is not only the job of mothers and grandmothers, but it is the entire family’s responsibility.
            This being said, I am also well aware that parents are not the only one to bear that responsibility, although “Faith starts at home.” However, children must learn how to build upon that legacy and carry it on to the next generation themselves. There are many young adolescents who may choose not to carry on that legacy, but it does not mean we shouldn’t do it. God wants us to leave the next generation a legacy of faith, and I am grateful that many parents have taken this responsibility seriously.

Happy Mother’s Day
Donny Pierre  

Worship with us Online Today (May 3, 2020)

Join us for a celebration of our Lord as we worship him with song, prayer, communion, teaching, and giving. These are things we are told to do each week and even though we can’t be together in the church building, we can be together in our worship.

If you have a prayer request, you can send those in live during the worship service. Send an email to bulletin@waterburychurch.org or you can send a text message to 203.936.7269

Couple easy ways to join our online service starting at 10:30am…

Church Web Site: We’ll have the service streaming online right from the front page of our website at https://www.waterburychurch.org.

Youtube Live: You can also catch our service on Youtube Live, and the link for that channel is https://www.youtube.com/c/waterburychurchofchrist

Giving: Our electronic giving site is available at the church website, go to www.waterburychurch.org/giving to send in your contribution while we’re not together.

Please continue to pray for our community and for our church family to stay strong as we fight this virus.

FINDING COMFORT FROM MY CHILD

The other day my 2 ½ year old came to me while I was working in my open office in my living room and said “daddy, I am sad.” Immediately I dropped everything I was doing, I grabbed him, hugged him tight, and placed him on my lap. Looking at him straight in his eyes, I couldn’t help but be concerned and shared his sadness. I asked him “Drey, why are you sad, pops?” Drey is his nickname, short for Andre, and pops is what I call him when he is exhibiting adult-like behaviors that show maturity way beyond his 2 ½ years. He looked at me with his eye wide open and his lips perked up and said “I don’t know daddy, I am just sad.” My heart melted right away, while holding back my tears I attempted to say something that could possibly soothe the aching heart of a 2 ½ year old, but my voice started to break. Before I could offer him some words of comfort, he said “daddy, are you okay?” He understood I was not okay at that moment, and without hesitation he reached over and hugged me: “daddy, do you feel better now?” he asked with empathy as he clearly understood how much I needed that hug.
            That was it for me, I could not stop the waterworks. At that moment, I had so many thought going through my head that I still don’t remember them all. However, I do remember that I started to think how I failed as a parent, because I should be the one comforting my 2 ½ year old pops. I should be the one making sure he was okay and reassuring him that he had nothing to be sad about. I had to stop myself from allowing what I believed to be an evil thought to take root in my mind, because I did not fail him whatsoever. My wife and I did not fail our boys, we are not perfect but we do try to teach them empathy and how to express their feelings without fear of retaliation. We want our boys (Jay, short for Jamal, who is 11 and Drey) to be loving, caring, and understanding – we need to lead by example. We want them to know if they need to cry that it’s always okay to cry, because crying can be cathartic and therapeutic. Crying, as someone once said, is like a cleansing for the soul. I hope as many of us are spending so much time at home, we are creating an atmosphere where everyone in our families are not afraid to fully express how they feel. We may often think or say, as I have before, that kids have nothing to be sad about, nothing to worry about it, but adults are not the only one being affected by this pandemic. So, allow me to be an advocate for all of our kids, please check on them every day, talk to them, play with them, hug them, and allow them to be kids. After all, some of them may not be able to fully comprehend why they cannot see their little friends at daycare or elementary school – they may not be able to fully comprehend why they cannot see grandma, grandpa, aunty or cousins, whoever they cannot play with right now, but it doesn’t mean they are not affected by this whole thing. We are all in this together.
            After that hug with my son, which last for a few minutes, when I finally calm down a bit, I said “I love you pops, do you want to go outside with me.” With a big smile on his face, he responded “yes daddy…” We spent about 15 mins putting on some warm clothes, because it was a little cold outside. Of course, we did not go anywhere far. We kicked around the soccer ball in the driveway, and sat down watching the sunset. As I attempted to explain to my 2 ½ year old pops that God created this beautiful view we both were enjoying – he said, “Thank you daddy, I feel better now.” And of course, I started crying again. We hugged each other, and went back inside for a late family dinner.
            As I am sure many of you are already doing, I just want to remind you all to take the time to create memories together as a family. Maybe, God is using this unique time to bring families closer – maybe, God is using this time to remind us how much we need to appreciate each other more. Also, just like my little pops, it is very important for you to be able to have someone in your life you can share your emotions with and be real about everything without fear of retaliation or consequences.

Grace, Peace, and Love
Donny Pierre

Never Give Up! Sunday, April 27, 2020

NEVER GIVE UP ON HOPE
(Luke 24 – 13 – 35)

 After the death of Christ, many disciples lost hope. Cleopas and a fellow believer left Jerusalem disappointed because they had hope that Jesus would be the One to redeem Israel. They left on the third day not willing to wait on the power of the resurrection. Just like these disciples, if we are not careful, if we do not learn how to patiently wait on God and maintain our fellowship with the body of Christ we can also lose hope especially during difficult times.
 NEVER GIVE UP ON HOPE.

ABSENT IN THE BODY, PRESENT IN THE SPIRIT: COLOSSIANS 2: 1 – 5

          Have you ever been in a “Long distance relationship?” Maybe some of you would say, I don’t believe “Long distance relationships” can work, and that’s fair. It is possible, those who do not believe such relationships are viable stem from past painful experiences. It is also possible, those who have a more favorable stance on this subject have had a more successful experience from it. Maybe, some of you reading this article just want to be “Switzerland.” Wherever you stand on this topic, whatever favorable, non-favorable or neutral views you may have, it is fair to say that social-distancing is causing many of us to learn how to maintain our relationships from a distance.
          Many relationships are being put through the test right now (marriages, friendships, parenting professional ones etc.) as a result of social-distancing. Also, social-distancing is keeping many relationships apart, and people have to find creative ways to spend time together, communicate, and interact. For example, last week, one of my neighbors could not celebrate their child’s birthday how they wanted to, but the whole neighborhood managed to get in their car and drive by their house while honking their horns and screaming happy birthday. Frankly, it was really loud and unorthodox, but given the circumstances no one was really bothered. When I see the ingenuity of our fellow human beings and how we all strive to maintain our relationships and social life while social-distancing, I am reminded of Paul’s words in Col. 2:5, “For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.”
           “To be absent in the body, but present in the spirit.” This powerful statement could not be any truer right now, especially for the Church. Understanding that we may not be present physically we are still connected, united and empowered by one Spirit – the Holy Spirit. Most of Paul’s epistles, such as the book of Colossians, were written to encourage brothers and sisters who were far away from him. Although they could not see his face in the flesh (Col 2:1), his letters served as a conduit to help maintain and strengthen his long distance relationship with several Churches. With modern day technology, we tend to shy away from writing letters or cards to other people, because it is easier and much faster to text, facetime (or video call for those non-iPhone users) and interact using our gadgets. Whatever mode of communication, whatever electronic infrastructure we are currently using to maintain our relationships, nothing is as powerful as the Spirit that unites us together.
          Again, Paul reminded his audience the urgent need to keep encouraging each other, loving one another, and growing in their knowledge of the Word (Col. 2: 2). However, without the Holy Spirit none of this is really possible. There are many descriptions of the Holy Spirit (read Isaiah 11:2 and Gal 5: 22 – 25), but I prefer to understand the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Love. Love is what holds us together, no matter how far apart we are from each other. Love will always transcend time and space, especially during this crisis. When the Church in Corinth was fighting over who had the greatest spiritual gift, Paul unequivocally said the greatest one is love (1 Cor. 13). Although we are absent in the body, let us continue to be present in the Spirit of Love, because love is woven within the very fabric that holds families, communities, Churches, and even our society together. In the words of the late iconic Bob Marley, “One Love, One Heart, let’s get together and feel alright.” 

Grace and Peace
Donny Pierre