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Is God Still Speaking at Smoke Rise?

Last month I was visiting a person in facility care who receives monthly cards from Touchpoint Ministries volunteers at Smoke Rise. At his nightstand was a familiar sight—a stack of cards and envelopes. Each of the cards were from Touchpoint team members. The man would not let me leave until he read the cards to me. “For me,” he said “these cards are like my Bible. I know it sounds funny, but they are like devotionals for me.”

It is often our practice during Worship in the Sanctuary to share the following liturgical response after the reading of scripture:

For the Word of God in scripture

For the Word of God among us

For the Word of God within us

Thanks be to God.

Our frequent use of this response in worship has theological significance. At Smoke Rise, we embrace the concept of “soul competency” as vital a part of our theological heritage. We recognize the right of each person to listen for God and to interpret God’s word for themselves with a free conscience. Because we believe that God is still speaking in our world through the words in Scripture and the life of the Spirit among us, we do not use the Bible thoughtlessly or as a bludgeoning weapon to divide us from each other. We freely embrace scripture as we exercise our individual, God-given, spiritual freedom and reason.

For many people, scripture is the end of the discussion, even though scripture itself testifies to a living God whose living Spirit and living Word is still active in our lives. For historic Baptists and for critical thinking Christians, scripture serves as a foundation for a full and free discussion about God’s will for us and for our world. Scripture should be used to promote honest, open, truth-seeking, Spirit-led conversations about our faith and calling as followers of God’s living Word revealed in Jesus.

When someone tells me that God is speaking to them through Touchpoint ministry cards, it affirms in my spirit the shared truth that God’s word remains “within” and “among” us at Smoke Rise Baptist Church. The man I visited—the one with Touchpoint cards collected on his reading table—he reminded me that God still speaks mysteriously and personally to those who continue to listen.  He began reading a card that included a familiar Bible quotation. The man said, “I love that scripture and what this sweet person said about that scripture in the card she made for me. Her words were just what I needed to hear.”

Yes, God is still speaking at Smoke Rise. For the Word of God in scripture, among us, and within us: thanks be to God.

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