Friday, January 28, 2011

IF You Haven't Read Any Good Books Lately...

Came across this year's award winning books from Christianity Today. Thought it might help anyone looking for a good read...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Here are some pictures from my mini-sabbatical in the mountains of NW Georgia.

It's cold, but I am already enjoying the refreshment of a simplified schedule (as in NO schedule) and time to read. So far I've been reading Dan Allender's (who I have heard in person, and like in person and in print!) newest book entitled SABBATH. Some quotes:

- “Time, food, conversation, sorrow, hope, and companionship take on a rate, sweet, and compelling cast when one discovers holy time. ‘The earth is the LORD’s’ (Ps. 24:1), and all space is holy; yet, not all space has been sanctified. But time – a singe day, the Sabbath – is to be sanctified as holy.”

- “Many who take the Sabbath seriously and intentionally ruin it with legislation and worrisome fences that protect the Sabbath but destroy its delight.”

- “The Sabbath is a day when the kingdom to come has come and is celebrated now rather than anticipated tomorrow.”

I'm about a third of the way always, he gives much food for thought.

Pray for me that I can be quiet long enough to let God's Spirit have a chance to teach me what I need to learn, and that I may receive what He wants me to receive!

Again, I am blown away by the generosity of my church leadership in encouraging and allowing me this time, and to my friends who so lovingly provided me a perfect place to "retreat and renew!"

Monday, January 03, 2011

Count Your Blessings - Name Them One by One

Here are some of the blessings I’ve “counted” that the Lord gave our church in 2010.

1. Our unity. Here we are circling the courtyard Easter morning, praising our Father for our resurrected Lord, and praying for others.

2. Our adults, college students and youth participated in two summer World Changer projects, and our adults also participated in a spring break project in Charleston, SC.

3. We bought a new Yamaha grand piano that sounds, well, grand!

4. Our day care center got a new director, Lynn Bessinger, who has worked in the day care almost from the beginning. Here the kids are singing for our senior adult group.

5. We got a new Minister of Music, Chris Stegall who is doing a great job leading our choir and our congregation!

6. Community Day. Our Women’s Missionary Union collected winter clothing, blankets, served breakfast, and had community service agencies come to love on our community! We served over 200 people!

7. Thanksgiving Lunch. Working with other churches in the community, we served over 700 meals on Thanksgiving day. Nothing shows our gratitude to our Father better than loving people in His name!

8. Fall Festival gave the community a safer alternative to traditional Halloween trick or treating. Amid all the games, the food, the laughter and the fun, the biggest treat of all was sharing our Savior’s love with Denmark!

9. Our Royal Ambassadors held their annual pinewood derby race, raising over $2,800 for Meals-on-Wheels. They’ve been doing this for a decade now, and have raised over $30,000 in that time to feed the hungry in our area.

10. Only our Father could take one idea, a lot of scrap metal, and turn junk into life! Throughout the year, two of our older Sunday School classes (Jim Tant and Dessie Steadman) coordinated (with the help of our Royal Ambassadors) the collection and recycling of scrap metal to raise money to dig fresh water wells in area of need overseas. They initially thought they could get several hundred dollars collecting cans, etc. After a year, they have raised enough money for FOUR wells (at approx. $3,000 apiece) they had enough money to donate several 1,000 to our piano fund, and to get new carpet in the day care!). It’s amazing what God can do with the junk in our life if we just trust Him! Oh, and they are continuing this ministry in 2011!

11. When Haiti was hit with a devastating earthquake last January, we quickly joined the “Buckets of Hope” program through the North American Mission Board. We had a van full of buckets of food, and, well, HOPE! (Note: We also participated in Samaritan’s Purse’s annual Operation Christmas Child program, making up gift packages for needy kids around the world.)
12. Vacation Bible School saw a brave group of kids (and adults) trekking to Egypt to find out just how much God loves us!

13. This picture from our Valentine’s Day Party reminds me again of how blessed my congregation is with love for Christ and for each other!

14. We had three graduates this year from high school. Katie, Jodi, and Walker all are doing well in college, and we’re so very, very proud of them all!

So there you have SOME of the ways our Father has blessed First Baptist Church in 2010. I continue to thank Him for the privilege of being the pastor of such a great church family. We may be small as compared to some, but God is wonderful at multiplying His love through those who are willing! I pray all of us will be even more willing in 2011 to be blessed b
y our Savior that we might be a blessing to others for His glory!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Thought for the First Day of 2011

Psalm 63:1: O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.This is part of the passage I'm preaching on tomorrow as we prepare for the Lord's Supper. Some think that David may have been in the midst of his son, Absalom's rebellion. It was a dark time in his life, and David was honest as he cried out to his God.

It reminds me that when life is tough (as it has been for so many people in 2010 (i.e. Haiti, Pakistan, the Gulf Oil Spill, etc.)), we should do what David did. Seek God. Then again, I pray that in 2011 I'll pray this prayer (and mean it!) on good days as well as difficult days. I trust that you will, too.

I took these pictures yesterday at the Edisto River while visiting church members at the Oaks retirement center in Orangeburg. Why the close-up of the screw? It reminds me to make sure that whatever (or Whoever!) is holding my life together is not being neglected...I don't want to fall apart of the first crisis I encounter!
In case you didn't get to see impressive fireworks on New Year's is what they saw in London!!!!

But I wish for you all much more than just a "happy" new year! I hope you will embrace the fullness of the truly joyful, abundant life as a Christ-follower in 2011! Here are some scripture passages to reflect on as you begin a new year!

Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:31

The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, "The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!" Lamentations 3:22-24

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. Phil.3:13-14

Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:10-11

And finally, a prayer...

A New Year’s Prayer

May God make your year a happy one!
Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes;
Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy to travel any path;
Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking fear from your heart;
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows;
Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you when people and their causes need you most,
and by making you anxious to be there to help.
God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead. Amen!