The burden of the pulpit

I loved exercising the awesome, humbling privilege of declaring the Good News of the Gospel from the pulpit twice every week as a Corps Officer. Preparing my sermons deepened my knowledge of the Word and enriched my own spiritual life as I studied and read.

There were times, though, when I stepped into the pulpit with apprehension rather than anticipation. Even though I preached from the lectionary, there were occasions when I knew someone would feel I was “preaching at them” because of the conviction the Spirit brought to their hearts. (I wasn’t imagining this; some of them told me it was so after the meeting.) Then there were the times that personal issues crowded my heart; Satan would use a quarrel with my wife or the kids on Sunday morning to distract me. Perhaps the worst was when controversy erupted right before the meeting: “We have to go into the meeting. Please, let’s talk about it afterward.”

Sometimes the privilege of the pulpit comes with a burden. When there are contentious feelings among members of the congregation, e.g. Or when God has laid it on your heart to preach about difficult subjects like stewardship, forgiveness, evangelism, or integrity.

Sunday is Pentecost. It is an occasion to celebrate the power of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the Christian Church. But at a time when we in the Church should celebrate our unity in Christ in spite of differences of language, race, culture, education, age, or gender, the world around us is being roiled by events outside of our control. As if it weren’t bad enough that we were arguing over COVID19 and politicians’ responses to it, we are now confronted with what to do and say about the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.

Is it possible to preach without addressing such things? I cannot imagine being an African-American man preaching this Sunday with the George Floyd incident hanging over me. But why should the race of the preacher matter? And what does the Word say?

Here’s the rub. Salvation Army officers preach so that individuals come to some decision vis-a-vis their spiritual life. What does the Word say for an individual to do in today’s complex society to work for justice? Micah 6:8 says, “And what does the Lord require of you? To do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV) The task of the preacher is to challenge the hearer to know what it means – in practical terms – to do justly.

Pentecost should be an occasion for us to celebrate that day when many different nations assembled in Jerusalem and heard the same Gospel message in their native language. We should celebrate unity in Christ among diverse people. Yet, our times seem to call for us to declare the Word that speaks against societal ills which continue to plague our Christian brothers and sisters of color.

I will be praying for my colleagues as they carry the burden of the pulpit this Sunday.

Banners and Bonnets

During the enforced isolation of COVID, Facebook has been a welcome source of connection with friends far and near. Several have posted photos and reflections from personal history in the Army that prompt nostalgia, reminders to me of the rich heritage we have in the Army.

Some photos have been of soon-to-be-commissioned Cadets, poignant because of the cancellation of Commissioning events. These are events that reinforce our Army distinctives with Session Flags, decorations, uniforms, brass band music, etc.  These are celebrations of what is good and lasting about our Army culture.

The music of the Army is one of our ‘distinctives’ — the battle songs, songs of holiness, choruses of testimony, etc. I recently found myself singing a song that would be unfamiliar to many younger officers.  It was written by Meredith Willson (yes, it’s spelled correctly) who wrote “The Music Man”, one of my favorite musicals.  The words are these:

“Could you love the unloved, never reckoning the cost, giving them comfort and care?
Could you seek the unloved in the legion of the lost, sharing their grief and despair?
That’s the creed of an Army — a God-fearing Army!  With banners and bonnets they come.
Yes, to love the unloved in the spirit of the Lord, marching with trumpet and drum,
With banners and bonnets they come.”

Yes, banners and trumpets and drums are among our Army distinctives (no longer bonnets; RIP). But while Meredith Willson was celebrating those external distinctives, the real celebration was — and IS — for loving and seeking the unloved in the spirit of the Lord.  THAT’s the creed of our Army!  

I admit to worrying a bit about the loss of some of the unique trappings of the Army that help to remind us of who we are, not so much from a sense of nostalgia but because I want us to remain an Army that militantly, energetically, enthusiastically lives up to that creed.

And, in case you’re interested, here’s a video of “Banners and Bonnets”:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKChkxPobPg

Again, I say to those on the front lines of ministry, “Thank you for reinforcing the creed of The Army to love the unloved.”

For the Love of …

When I was a kid, we learned a variety of ways to avoid taking God’s name in vain. For example, we weren’t allowed to say OMG (before text-speak, one actually said the words); it was, “Oh. My. Gosh.” It was “For Pete’s sake!” instead of using the Messiah. And the expression at our house when exasperated was, “Oh! For the love of Pete.” Now, I don’t know who Pete was nor how he got honored with these substitutions for divinity, but it kept us from violating the second commandment.

For some reason, the expression came to mind recently: “For the love of God.” But not as an exasperated utterance; as a description of why Salvation Army officers do what they do.

That phrase is contained in The Salvation Army Mission Statement: our “ministry is motivated by the love of God.” I believe the phrasing is deliberate to include these meanings:

  1. We have been the recipients of God’s lavish love, culminating in Jesus’ sacrifice that secured our salvation. Having been recipients of that grace, we spread the news of God’s love to bring others to salvation. We preach the gospel and serve suffering humanity out of gratitude for God’s love to us.
  2. We are motivated by our love for God. I John 4 tells of the connection between loving God and loving others, concluding “And he has given us this command: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (NIV)
  3. We are channels of God’s love. Paul says in Romans 5:5 that “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (KJV)

Love can be a tremendous motivating force. For example, my Dad was the one who enforced discipline in our house; Mom never gave me a spanking. But I remember that avoiding spankings was not enough motivation to keep me from wrongdoing. Worse punishment for me was Mom’s expression of disappointment in me as her son. My love for her was stronger motivation to do right than my fear of physical punishment.

Just so, the love of God – in each of the ways outlined above – motivates our mission. Our ministry of service in TSA is propelled by this motivation.

The stressors of officership, heightened by the current pandemic, may cause some to become exasperated. I pray that the phrase, “for the love of God” springs to mind to remind us why we do what we do.

And remember: there’s a host of us “in the balcony” cheering you on and praying for you.

It’s an Emergency!

On March 13, President Trump declared a “State of Emergency” for the entire United States as a response to COVID-19. We are still living under the implications of that declaration.

As one with experience in The Salvation Army’s Emergency/Disaster Services (EDS), I have been contemplating what that means for Salvation Army Officers.

First, it should be said that The Army’s first responders following a tornado, hurricane, flood, etc. are local personnel –who themselves have been impacted by the natural disaster. Consider the heroic service of Puerto Rican officers who provided services after recent hurricanes and earthquakes even though their own homes were without power and water. With COVID-19, every active officer is immersed in a local emergency situation of some sort.

In the case of large-scale disasters, local personnel are quickly reinforced with experienced EDS workers who arrive from other locations to deliver relief efforts. With this emergency, though, help is NOT on the way; everyone is impacted in some way; and no-one can travel to provide reinforcements.

One of the important factors in EDS is respite. Teams sent into disaster areas seldom serve more than two weeks. Incident Commanders evaluate whether local personnel need to be told to step aside to avoid physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion. Adrenalin runs out after awhile and “crashes” happen if respite isn’t provided. One of the factors in our current emergency is that this state of emergency is now eight weeks long. All front line Officers have been serving under extreme circumstances, facing the impact on their own family well-being, without relief from other places. Respite is needed.

And then there’s recovery. EDS teams sometimes stay put after relief efforts are concluded to assist in recovery efforts (although the major burden falls on local personnel). In such instances, there continues to be support services provided from DHQ and THQ, funding is made available, perhaps staff are added who are dedicated to recovery efforts, etc. Local service provision infrastructure is usually the platform on which recovery efforts are built. But, here, we do not know what “recovery” means, when it starts, or what will remain of the local service infrastructure. And since it is a pandemic, we are all in the same boat; there’s no team above dedicated to my local situation.

These are the 3 R’s of EDS – relief, respite, recovery. May I suggest to active officers that you use that framework to keep well during this emergency?

  1. Relief — let others help you. You are not alone. Believe it or not, there are people around you who want to support you, even though they are impacted by COVID-19 mitigation requirements. Consider the fact that they may have a need to be involved even more than you need the help.
  2. Respite — do not neglect your own self-care. The truth is that The Army is not adept at providing pastoral care to active officers. Healthy officers have learned to attend to their own emotional, physical and spiritual needs. The importance of doing this is heightened when our usual emotional and physical outlets are foreclosed to us, and when we are sequestered with family. Airlines tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first so you can help others. The same principal applies to ministry: stay emotionally and spiritually healthy to best serve your flock. Take care of yourself!
  3. Recovery — planning is always difficult in this fast-changing world. Planning for life after COVID-19 is perplexing. But with the extra time accorded by the restrictions on normal life, perhaps you can brainstorm about what to do when restrictions are fully lifted. What changes will you have to make? What changes will be possible? What advantage can you take from lessons learned and skills developed (virtual ministry, e.g.) during these days?

And remember, there are a host of us praying for you!

Sermon for Sunday, May 10, 2020

The People of God

Scripture: I Peter 2:4-10

Outcasts.  Gentile ‘dogs.’  Slaves. Nobodies.  Rejected by men.  The world’s doormats.  That was what the makeup of the Christian church to which Peter addresses his epistle looked like — to the world and to themselves.  (Truth be told, in many respects it is little different today; far too often, this is how our congregations are viewed by the world and how we see ourselves.)

But look Who is the foundation of this new faith, look Who is the “cornerstone” of the Church: the stone that men rejected. Do Isaiah’s words come to mind? “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.”  It is the suffering Servant upon Whom our faith is based.

And as if identifying with Jesus weren’t enough encouragement, Peter tells his readers — and us — that we are not outcasts; we belong to God.  We are not doormats to be walked upon; we are living stones that make up the Temple of the living God.  We are not nobodies; we are precious.  We may be rejected by men, but we are chosen of God.  Gentile dogs are now a holy nation.  Slaves they may remain, but they are among the royal priesthood of the Kingdom of God.  What a powerful message to the Church, then and now.

The prophetic life of Hosea is brought to mind as verse 10 says “Once you were not a people [Lo-Ammi]…once you had not received mercy [Lo-Ruhamah].”  But NOW… But NOW… You are the people of God because you have received the mercy of Christ!  It is a glorious message, this Gospel we preach!

I.  Once you were…

A.         Stumbling in disobedience (verse 8).  Without knowing the One who is The Way, we are destined to stumble and fall.

B.        In darkness (verse 9).  The contrast between the old life of sin and the new life of grace is stark — from darkness to light, from death to life.

C.        Not a people.  (verse 10)  

1.  Sin is divisive.  It separates us from God and from one another.  There is no “family of unbelievers” like the Family of God. Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones is the image of arid separateness which characterizes those who are “not a people.”

2.  People who are trapped in sin are not ‘family’ in the way that the people of God are family.  When we were in sin, we were outcast and isolated from others — not just from those in the church.  We were NOT “a people.”

D.        Without mercy (verse 10).  The message of Hosea is that the mercy of God is always offered, but not always “received.”

Consider the picture.  The one who is outside of the family of God, who is wallowing in sin, who hasn’t accepted Christ’s offer of grace and forgiveness of sin, that person is alone, stumbling in darkness and disobedience, and living outside of the abundant mercy of God.  That is what we once were, before grace.

But now…

II.  Now you are…

A.     A chosen people, the people of God, a people belonging to God, chosen by God and precious to Him.  Notice the repetition — chosen…people.  Peter, the one God told not to call unclean what God calls clean, tells these Gentile believers (whom at one time he would not have associated with) that they are the new Israel: God’s chosen people.

ILLUS – the KJV uses the word “peculiar” — a ‘peculiar’ people. Specially set apart for the King.

B.     A holy priesthood (verse 4), a royal priesthood (verse 9).  Those who previously could not find the way are now leading others to The Way.

1.  We need to come to grips with the “special-ness” of being members of the priesthood of God.  In the Old Testament, only men of the tribe of Levi could be priests.  Only the specially chosen tribe of the specially chosen people could serve as priests in the Temple.

2.  But NOW [consider the importance of that word, too] we are part of the priesthood of all believers.  We do not need to come to God through the mediation of another, we come boldly before His throne of grace.  We do not need another to offer sacrifice on our behalf; Jesus Himself was the sacrifice, once for all — for all people and for all time and for all sins. Hallelujah!

C.     Living in the light (verse 9).  That reality carries with it certain responsibilities, such as letting your “light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  Peter calls it ‘declaring His praises.’

D.     A forgiven people — you have received mercy (v. 10). 

III.  So…

A.        Be thankful for the grace of God and live a life of gratitude.

B.        Live like the person you are.  Chosen people, royal priests. God’s precious ones ought not act like spoiled brats, but like those who have been adopted into a privileged life; that is the reality, after all.

C.        And declare God’s praises.  By the life you live, the words you speak, the works you do, the places you go and the attitudes you show.

In the days when class distinctions were more readily apparent and more socially tolerated, there was an expectation laid upon the privileged classes called ‘noblesse oblige.’  The idea was that the elite were obligated to show compassion toward the less privileged and to conduct themselves with grace; their ‘nobility’ placed them under obligation.  We are the people of God!  A royal priesthood!  A holy nation!  A chosen people!  Let’s act like it. 

When the reality of the headaches, problems, worries, challenges, etc. of life set in, just remember who and Whose you are: God’s treasured possession set apart to live holy lives in obedience to Him.  That reality makes us very special indeed!

Resources for Ministry

Eight years ago, I sent a message to the officers of my Division that began with these words: “I don’t recall a time in my forty years of officership as perilous as this.” 

It was an election year. I wrote, “The broader economic outlook for our country is itself the subject of fierce debate in this presidential election year.  And the Army faces enormous challenges to raise the funds required for us to continue to serve those we are called to serve.”

The peril and the challenges are exponentially greater as The Army faces the same ravages as society in general: employee lay-offs, closed Family Stores, severe drops in income, yet increased demand for service provision. As a retired officer, I am led to pray for Army leadership at every level. What are we to do?

China Inland Mission founder Hudson Taylor said, “God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack God’s supply.”  I believe that to be true.  For me, this truism has included the fact that doing God’s work in God’s way means vigorously providing opportunities to others to partner with us in providing God’s supply (otherwise known as “fundraising”).  But the current challenge seems to have foreclosed some of those avenues of funding supply.

If we are doing the most good (the most we possibly can), what does that require of us right now? Admittedly, this is an arena where experience provides little practical advice. Nonetheless, here are my suggestions for those on the front lines of ministry:

  1.  Pray earnestly for His guidance in the sobering decisions that must be made to ensure that we continue to do His work. Pray especially for Territorial and Divisional leaders who are confronted with the immensity of the problem across their area of responsibility.
  2. Don’t stint in providing assistance to those in need. This is no time for hoarding resources. Believe that God will refill your food pantry as He did the widow’s oil through Elisha (II Kings 4:1-7).
  3. Invite reliable supporters to assist in the actual work of service provision. You may find an “Elisha” who will be instrumental in refilling the pantry shelves.
  4. Look for innovative ways to “stretch” the resources. Miracles like the loaves and fishes may not be replicated, but perhaps God is directing us to some “lad with five loaves and two fish” that we overlooked before.
  5. Don’t despair. I love the Charles Wesley verse that says, “Faith, mighty faith, the Promise sees and looks to that alone, laughs at impossibilities, and cries, ‘It shall be done!'” The situation may seem hopeless, but God will provide a way.

And don’t forget to pray for those who, on top of the uncertainties of CV19 operations, are under Farewell Orders. The challenge of leaving everything ship-shape is heightened by the changes taking place in the public square over the next two months.

I know that I am not the only retired officer praying for you. Your arms are being upheld by prayer warriors, some whose names you’ll never know.

Blessings!

Sermon for Sunday, May 3, 2020

                                     Healed by His Wounds

I Peter 2:19-25

Being persecuted for their faith was an inescapable fact of life for those to whom Peter addresses his epistle. Yet strange and wonderful things were happening. Slaves were being converted AND slave owners.  They were fellow Christians. Much the same as we might find a corporate executive sitting next to his company’s janitor at a church meeting or Christian concert today, slave and owner could be found worshiping together in this baby church.

The New Testament, for many reasons, does not encourage abolition, but rather instructs slaves to remain obedient to their masters as a testimony to them and to the world of the transforming power of Christ. The Gospel message is itself revolutionary, the message that “every man is precious in the sight of God…God loves every man.” From I Peter and from Paul’s letter to Philemon, we hear a new and radical message — slave and master are brothers in Christ; both of them are bound by their new faith to follow the same life-style of righteousness.

But to the converted slave whose master is an unbeliever, Peter talks about receiving unfair treatment at the hands of the master. As to unjust suffering in general, we are unlikely to suffer because of our faith, unlike the Christians to whom Peter was writing. Yet, contrary to the “health and wealth gospel” heresy being preached in some quarters today, Christians DO endure suffering in spite of their faith. Suffering is “no respecter of persons”; it “falls on the just and the unjust” alike, just as rain and sunshine do. The question is not, “Do Christians suffer?” The question is, “What is the Christian’s response when suffering?” As Peter points out, there is virtue only when one suffers unjustly for one’s faith (verses 19-20).

In the final analysis, however, whatever we may be called to endure pales in comparison to the suffering Jesus endured on our behalf. And the injustice of the only perfect Man suffering the shame of the cross on behalf of sinful mankind should cause us to follow gladly in His steps out of gratitude for His selfless sacrifice.

It would do us well to come to an understanding of the efficacy of our ‘suffering’ in the light of Jesus’ peerless example.

I.  Our Suffering…

A. Is inevitable – pain is part of human experience. To one degree or another, all of us experience it.  We live in a fallen world. One result of Adam’s fall is that pain is a universal human experience. None of us are exempt from suffering pain, heartache, disappointment, discouragement.

B. But let’s look at reality. Some pain is deserved – (verse 20). Much of human pain is self-inflicted; we bring it upon ourselves. Part of the reason our society is facing the problems that we face today is that people are unwilling to accept the consequences of the choices that they make. We want to be inoculated against the results of the decisions we make.

1. We inoculate our children against disease like measles, mumps, chicken pox, polio, etc. By getting a shot or taking certain medicine, we can practically guarantee that we don’t contract certain diseases.

2. But that has led us to believe that we can shield our children–and ourselves–from anything undesirable or uncomfortable. We want to have sex outside of marriage, but we don’t want to face the consequences–practice “safe sex”; when that doesn’t work and you get pregnant, get an abortion; or if you get AIDS, demand that the government produce a cure. We see some evidence of this attitude in the way some have handled the precautions recommended to deal with COVID-19. We are unaccustomed to being exposed to this kind of risk.

3. We want to spend money without regard for proper stewardship like tithing or saving, but when we dig ourselves into a hole we want the lottery, or government, or Publishers’ Clearing House to save us.  And we even dare to pray for God’s help when we have dishonored Him by our failure to tithe.

4. We want the freedom to watch anything and everything on television, the movies, videos and Premium Channels. But when we discover that our values and morals have been formed by the Simpsons rather than the Sermon on the Mount, when we speak the language of violence and vulgarity more easily than we can voice a prayer aloud, and we find ourselves knowing the TV Guide better than the ten commandments, we have brought upon ourselves the pain that the world’s values always produce.

God’s word makes it plain that when we suffer for our own wrongdoing, it is commendable to “face the music” with a consciousness that God’s creation includes laws which we violate at our peril. God will not suspend the law of gravity to protect me if I choose foolishly to walk off a cliff. Neither will He suspend the moral laws of His creation to protect me from a willful violation of His commands. Rather, the painful consequences of our willful disobedience should bring us humbly and penitently back to God.

C. But some of the pain that we suffer is unjust – (verse 19).  

1.We may suffer because of the deeds of others; parents know well the heartache that our children can bring. There are times when the actions of bosses or co-workers go beyond inconveniencing us and cause us emotional distress. Many of the diseases we suffer are not self-inflicted–it is not punishment. The suffering is not “deserved.”

2. Or we may suffer because of our stand for righteousness. While we do not have to face the prospect of death or imprisonment because of our testimony, as Peter’s first readers did, there are situations where a stand for truth places us in the seat of ridicule. There are circumstances where we lose a promotion at work because we refuse to lie, or drink, or cover up the theft of a co-worker. And, sadly, there areplaces in the world today where Christians endure imprisonment and torture because of their faith.

3. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” And Peter says, “It is commendable before God if you suffer for doing good.”

D. Since some pain and suffering comes our way simply because we are fallen creatures, and since we recognize that a courageous stand for Christian truth may add to that suffering, it is an encouragement to know that some goodmay come out of our suffering:

1. Personal growth and deepening of understanding; developing perseverance. Nobody chooses to suffer–at least nobody who is in their right mind. But I have been amazed at the quality of saintliness that I have encountered in those who have suffered much pain.  

– -Hazel in Findlay Ohio who was the sweetest saint I have met, in spite of a bitter invalid husband in physical pain and a mentally retarded adult son who required constant attention

–Jeanne in Old Orchard Beach Maine whose crippling arthritis caused her severe pain, but who faithfully witnessed to her fellow residents in the nursing home.

2. These saints, and others like them, give witness to others of the power and strength that is available in Christ. And they are ordinary saints like you and me. It is their pain that is extraordinary, not their faith and certainly not God’s power. We, too, can see the pain of life’s experiences as an opportunity to testify to those who do not know Jesus, to show how God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.

3. The gospel may be advanced, as with Stephen’s martyrdom. When we endure suffering as true soldiers of Jesus Christ, others will notice and want to experience the same power that we experience to face and conquer “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”

Yet, no matter how much benefit we can extract from our own circumstances of pain, the matchless work of grace accomplished by the suffering of Christ remains not only a wonder to consider, but a reminder to spur us on to endurance.

II.  Christ’s suffering…

A. …was endured without retaliation, without threats, without vengeance. (verse 23)

B. …was not for His own sin, but for ours. (verses 22, 24) His suffering was the ultimate injustice. He who knew no sin became sin for our sakes.

C. …was for the purpose of bringing us to righteousness. (verse 24b) He became sin so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness.

D. …accomplishes our healing. (verse 24c) Notice that Peter uses the past tense: “have been healed.”  His atoning sacrifice was an act of healing; our healing has already been accomplished. All we need do is appropriate it.

Notice that the title of this message is “Healed by His Wounds.” Yet all this time I have been talking about suffering. Where does the ‘healing part’ come in? I have just now mentioned that Jesus’ suffering accomplishes our healing, but what does that mean?

III.  Our healing…  

A. Is too often viewed too narrowly. Jesus’ healing is not just physical healing. Nor ought we think only in terms of spiritual healing. Part of the holiness message is that we need to see ourselves more “wholistically.” When human beings suffer, it is often tragic. We wish that the suffering could be avoided, the tragedy averted. But healing often is a matter of seeing things from God’s perspective. If the cause of our suffering is not removed, like Paul’s thorn in the flesh, then we need to “own it” and “use it” for the glory of God. And in doing so, healing occurs–whether or not the “thorn” remains!

B. One of the reasons we consider suffering tragic is that so little good comes of it. Even in stating above that “some good comes” from our own suffering, it is important that we search for “the good” amidst the pain to make the suffering seem worthwhile. And, truth be told, we would rather discover this good by means other than suffering. But healing comes when we discern what God wants us to understand about ourselves, about Him and about the suffering that we must endure.

Peter boldly asserts to his suffering readers that Jesus’ unjustsuffering was designed for a glorious outcome. Recalling the words of Isaiah, he says that Jesus’ wounds bring healing: death to our sins, birth to our righteousness, and a life of health and wholeness. We are healed by His wounds.

Turn to John 21 – verse 15. During Peter’s three-fold restoration by Jesus’ giving him three opportunities to affirm his love for Christ, Jesus says, “Feed my lambs,” “Take care of my sheep,” “Feed my sheep.” Jesus is telling the fisherman to become a shepherd. And Peter took it seriously – he says in 1:25 “you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Peter had suffered the pain of Jesus’ accusing look in Pilate’s courtyard and the biting reminder of his three-fold denial on the sea-shore. But Peter knew the healing balm of the Shepherd who had lovingly restored him to the fold.

Let Jesus do that for you here today. Trapped in sin? Jesus is the cure! Tossed by doubt, struggles, temptations and the like? Return to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. It is by Jesus’ wounds that you have already been healed–claim it as your own healing today!

Choruses:        Touch me again; He was wounded for our transgressions