Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Circle of Life

I have been thinking a lot lately about the Circle of Life. Becca and I are eagerly anticipating the arrival of our little girl, Nadia Janelle Madison Jones. It has been a long process as many adoptions are to get to this point. We are so thankful for loving birthparents and a supportive church that will allow both of us to be home with our baby girl for the important early bonding. There is so much joy surrounding the birth of this baby. Becca and I move freely from unbridled excitement and giddiness to outright fear that we will be incapable parents. We ask ourselves almost daily, "What is she going to look like? Will she have curly hair or straight? Blonde hair or dark? What color will her eyes be? Will she like to cuddle? What will her personality be like? Will she like balls or dolls...or both? Will she like to be held? Can we do this? Are we really ready to be parents?" We find ourselves on pins and needles and jumping every time the phone rings or we hear "You've got mail!" Our bags are packed and we are ready to go. The car is loaded and the house is clean. All we need now is to get THE phone call.
But, in the midst of all the excitement of preparing for a new life we also experience the grief of loss. Earlier this week Becca's "Gran" passed away. Recently, we had the privilege of celebrating her 92nd birthday at the Cracker Barrell! In Gran's last days she had a beautiful blanket made for Nadia. We got to see her one last time on Sunday and in a very sweet moment she took Becca's hands and voiced a wonderful prayer for Nadia's arrival and that she would grow strong and have a great and bountiful life. Every time someone new would walk in to her room she would ask, "Is Nadia here yet?" Not that she would get to see her but, it was as if Gran was waiting for her arrival. Gran had lived a wonderful long life. She was tired and ready to see Jesus and Pappy. Right to the very end Gran was calling the shots. Her daughters and other family members were around this week, but she waited until she was alone to breathe her last. To the very end she was protecting her girls. Gran you are a special woman and you will be missed by all.
At Deacon's meeting this week Beth Mobley, who has recently lost her mother said, "Death is just as much a part of life as birth." How true that is. We will cherish the early moments that we have with our precious Nadia just as we cherish the last moments we had with Gran. My prayer for you and for us is that we will also cherish all the moments in between.

Monday, April 20, 2009

March Mission Madness

I apologize for the delay in getting these pictures posted. You can also go to to find a whole lot more! As you can see we enjoyed a tour around Athens as well as work and fellowship.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

How does Jamal answer the final question correctly?...

I don't want to give anything away in regards to this movie. I will say that this movie fits well with what we have been talking about all year. Slumdog is rated "R." I would say the rating is for slight language, violence, and suggestive themes. Becca, Greg, Zihna, and I went to see this movie together. All of us agree that it is very well done. It is definitely not a "feel-good" movie. You don't walk out with a warm fuzzy feeling. During the movie you are lead into the slums of Mumbai by two brothers and an unlikely female companion. The story follows their life from a very young age through the pitfalls of slum life. At times it is difficult to watch what these children have to live through. The movie is based on the book "Q&A" by Vikas Swarup.

The question remains, what do we do now? I wonder what the producers of the movie will do about the situations they filmed. Will proceeds from the movie go to lift some of these children and families out of poverty, slavery, and the sex trade? As we can only control our own actions perhaps a better question would be what are we going to do now as a result of our study this year and having seen this movie? This Fall our church will enter a stewardship campaign focused on Justice and Faith and how the two are intertwined. It has been asked why are we focusing so much on social justice issues (presumably at the expense of the "Jesus stuff"). My simple answer to that question is social justice is the Jesus stuff! The longer answer would fill more pages than I care to here, but it would involve the many scriptures from the Prophets, Psalms, the Gospels, and the Book of James that point us in the direction of taking care of those that God cares about, the brokenhearted, the orphans, and the widows, etc.

Join us this Wednesday night as we begin the process of sponsoring children through Compassion International. Flood Begins at 6:00 with a snack supper and 6:30 for the worship experience. Pressing on! Andy

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kudos to FBC Decatur

In the most recent copy of Baptist Today (March 2009) there is an article written about FBC Decatur, GA. As you may or may not know in August 2007 the church called a new pastor. The church called the pastor they genuinely believed to be God's choice for them. After prayerful consideration the search committee led the church to a choice that was even surprising to the committee, the candidate happened to be a woman. From what I have heard the committee even hid the names and pictures so as not to be biased in any way throughout the process. They did not go in search of a woman, but were obviously open to calling her as pastor. Ask any member of Decatur First and I'm sure they will tell you what a wonderful addition she is to the staff, the church, and the community. In November 2008 the GBC passed a motion not to accept mission funds from churches with female pastors and to prohibit those churches from having representation in the convention. This was clearly in response to FBC Decatur's calling of Julie Pennington-Russell, although they will never say that. On Jan. 7 of this year Executive Director Robert White, the GBC Church-Ministers Relations director Danny Watters, and the editor of the Christian Index visited Pennington-Russell with the news that some individuals within the convention were requesting a "withdrawal of fellowship" from FBC Decatur. The paragraphs that follow are the pastor's recounting of that meeting and some of her response to her congregation.

She told church members that the GBC representatives explained that a formal "withdrawal of fellowship" would mean that the church could not recieve materials or services from the GBC such as training in VBS, Sunday School, or Evangelism.
"Not Sure I'd heard correctly, I pressed a little. Do you mean that if I called you up one day and said--'The Spirit is doing something amazing at First Baptist Decatur! Waves of men, women, and teenagers are responding to God and are being baptized and we could use some additional help in giving them a good foundation. Could you send a team over to meet with our folks?'--Are you telling me that the GBC wouldn't want to help us with that?"
White said he would be willing to help "personally" in such a situation, but not as an official representative of the GBC.

Then from her article she encourages her congregation against "missing the point."

'[Denominationalism] is largely missing the point. The denominational leaders in my office that day love people and care deeply about the gospel--I'm certain about that. But the sad reality is, most denominational organizations are stuck in bureaucratic systems that have forgotten why they exist in the first place.' She said the congregation must be on guard against "missing the point" as well. 'May God save us from the deadly notion that this church exists to provide goods and services for eligible "members." We exist to follow Jesus into gospel adventures of all kinds in collaboration with all God's people, whatever their denominational preferences or doctrinal stances.'

Just as Pennington-Russell encourages her congregation let me encourage ours not to "miss the point." As Christians and as FBC Augusta we should plan ministries with all integrity for the benefit of our community and especially those that are not within our fellowship. It is by focusing outward that our community will know that we are people of faith that will accept them where they are, as they are, but like our Lord Jesus Christ will love them to much to leave them there. Gone are the days of the Country Club, "serve me" mentality. Let us continue to be a church on mission and with a mission to "Love the Lord our God and share his love with our community and world."
Thanks to John Pierce and his article in Baptist Today (March 2009, p. 12)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Newspaper in one hand...

I have not always been an avid reader. There have been times is my life that the last thing I wanted to do was pick up a book and read. On the flipside there have also been times when I wouldn’t be seen without a book in my hand. I have written a couple of times about listening to books on CD in the car or Becca reading to me as we drove over the Christmas holidays. Recently, Becca purchased subscriptions for me to both Time and Sports Illustrated. I am enjoying both of them very much. Of course, I will enjoy SI much more when College Football rolls around.
There is a saying that goes around ministerial circles that is attributed to Karl Barth (pronounced Bart), “preachers should approach the world with the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.” What does that mean to you? This year we have been looking at the problems around the globe (newspaper) and determining what to do in light of them by looking at what the Bible says. My current “newspaper” is Time magazine. What’s yours? How are you staying connected with the world? In light of the scriptures what are you doing to make an impact on this world?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Souper Bowl of Caring

"Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat." --Brad Smith

With that simple prayer a movement was started right in our own backyard. Twenty years ago at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church the youth group caught a vision. Since then over $50 million has been donated to soup kitchens, food banks, and other charities all across the country. Many churches also participate in a one day service blitz on the Saturday of the big game. Maybe next year we will get in on that action as well. This Sunday we will have students posted at the doors as you leave the Sanctuary or gym with soup pots. Please give generously as 100% of the donations collected will go to the Master's Table Soup kitchen here in Augusta. The beauty of the Souper Bowl is that none of the donations leave the local area. Your money goes to help your community. No matter which team you are pulling for we can all be on the same team Sunday morning! Don't forget the Super Bowl Party at 5:00!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Quick History Lesson

One of the things I love about the Old Testament and the Jewish traditions and festivals is the rich history that is told and retold. Many of the stories in the early part of the Old Testament are much older than the writings themselves. The stories were passed down orally for generations before they were ever written down. The people were commanded to share the stories with their children when they rise, when they lie down, at meal times, during special festivals and feasts, and at other sacred times of the year. Even the festivals had special meaning and marked significant events in the life of Israel. For Example, Passover is a festival to remind the people how God passed over the Israelites as he smote (great word, huh?) the first-born of the Egyptians. As Christians we also recognize Jesus as the Passover lamb. For just as God "passed over" the homes of the Israelites God also "passed over" us as Jesus sacrificed his very life on the cross for us. And the festival that we have looked at recently, the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths, was meant to be a marker and a reminder that Yahweh provides. While the people were wandering in the wilderness they were provided with all that they needed. Got sent manna and quail, "their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet become swollen." (Neh. 9:21) The people constructed booths and lived in them for the duration of the eight day festival as a reminder that God had provided even when it seemed they had nothing to call their own. There are markers and reminders too numerous to name here. There are also spots in scripture that that tell us a lot about the history of Israel in just a small space. Nehemiah chapter 9 is one such place. Here we read a prayer that is intended as a reminder for the people of what God has done and why they are to fear (read "respect") and worship God. For us this also serves as a brief lesson of the history of Israel. Praise God for these reminders. I for one am glad they show up in random places. Aren't those the reminders that we really need anyway; those that come when we least expect them? Don't forget your Bibles on Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Disciple Now 09

Dnow registration forms are due tomorrow night. Bring them to Flood or bring them by the office. Please bring registration form, medical release form, and your cash or check made out to FBC Augusta, memo: Dnow. The dates are Feb 6-8.

Snow in Augusta!

After taking these pictures I wish I had gone out with my camera sooner! Earlier today it was snowing much harder than what is pictured here. Obviously, nothing stuck to the ground where we are but it was certainly pretty to look at. Right outside my office window is the preschool playground. It was quite a joy this morning to see the children playing in the falling snow. I bet some of them had never seen snow before. Although it was cold they were all having a wonderful time. Do you remember your first snowfall? Do you remember your favorite snowfall? I don't remember my first snowfall, but I do remember my favorite. I was in elementary school. To the best of my knowledge it may have been the only time we had for real snow in Athens while I lived there. We had sleet several times but rarely actual snow. This time we had a good three or four inches. My sister and I went down the street and joined in a neighborhood snowball fight with people who were merely acquaintences. There is something about the snow that can knock down barriers. We had the best time getting soaking wet and cold. After the fight we rolled a snowman up in our yard. I only wish I had raked the yard before the snow fell! We had a pretty trashy looking snowman with all the leaves and pine straw. Leave a comment with your favorite snow story and let's relive childhood together!

Friday, January 16, 2009

That's one long sermon!

How many times have you found yourself on a Sunday morning or Wednesday night for that matter looking at your watch and praying just this once that the minute hand would move a little, okay a lot faster? Don't be ashamed; we've all done it. In preparation for next Wednesday's message I was reading through Nehemiah 5-8. In these chapters we read about the completion of the wall and the gathering of the people back to Jerusalem after the exile. As a part of this gathering Nehemiah had Ezra bring the Book of the Law to be read to the people. He did this so the people who had been scattered about for generations would be reminded of their heritage and the laws that they are to follow. Chapter 8 of Nehemiah tells us that Ezra read from the Book of the Law from daybreak until noon. And what is more? The people were standing the whole time out of reverence for the Law! Not only did they listen to the Law being read for 5 or 6 hours while they were standing, but they were convicted. We continue reading in Nehemiah that Nehemiah, Ezra, and Levites who were teaching the people from the Law and interpreting what it meant had to chide the people not to weep and mourn. They reminded them that this was a great day in the Lord, "Be Still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve."

Then, the next day they came back and did it all over again. But, this time they read about the festival of booths. The people went and gathered branches with which to make their booths. They proclaimed among the hillsides that they were celebrating a festival in Jerusalem. During the festival the people of Jerusalem lived in their booths as a reminder of the 40 years that Israel spent in the desert with Moses. They festival lasted for eight days. For every one of those days the people gathered to hear from the Book of the Law. This is an example of a people being rejuvinated for the Lord. Since the time of Joshua son of Nun (Moses successor) the festival had not been celebrated like this. The people are glad to be back in the homeland and able to celebrate the festival the way it was intended. That's one long sermon that turned into one great revival!

I pray that as these uncertain economic times have befallen us we may turn back to the Book just like the people of Jerusalem did. May we read the word with fresh eyes. This is our time to realize some of the things that we have neglected. Let us not circle the wagons and take care of our own. Rather let us be reminded that we are to be the Light in this dark world. May we recognize those who are hurting around us. As Allen Walworth reminded us, now is the time for the church to "be about my Father's business." It is during these times that we, God's people, should be reminded of God's provision for us, be reminded that all we have is not our own, and be reminded that we should hold loosely those things we have always being ready to let it go as God sees fit. May this word challenge your heart as we seek together to Do Hard Things...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Do Hard Things...

So, another trip to Nashville provides ample opportunity to read in the car. No, I don't read while I drive. I usually let my wife read to me while I drive. That has become our practice over the last few months. And this trip was no different. On the way to Nashville we read a great little book written by a friend of ours, Randy Winton, called "My Daddy's Shoes." It is an inspirational book about being present and available to your children. It also emphasizes the importance of being a model of godly living for your children. I can only imagine that one of my hard things will be living up to the image of father that my children will want me to be. But, that is a topic for another time... After spending the week at a Children's Pastors' Conference we came home today and I gave Becca a break. While she rested most of the way home I listened to an audio book that I had purchased earlier in the week. This book was written by two 19- year old twin brothers. It is called Do Hard Things. Alex and Brett Harris are crying out against the low expectations that the world has for teenagers today. The basic premise is that for too long adolescents and kidults have done just enough to skate by because that is all they were expected to do. The challenge is for teens to become rebelutionaries, that is to be ones who rebel against the rebellion that is so often associated with the years 13-19 (perhaps now up to the mid- to late 20s). The brothers list example after example of opportunities that they and many others have had to show the adults around them that they are tired of living in a low expectation world. I was encouraged to know that there are many teenagers in our country and around the world that not only want to make a difference, but expect to do so. I have said this before and would like to take this opportunity to say it again here, "people will rise to the expectations that you have for them." That is why I have made the challenge that I have this year. I expect the students at First Baptist Church Augusta, GA to do something great! We have looked at many problems that our world is facing including but not limited to modern-day slavery, poverty, starvation, forced prostitution, and child mortality. In case the challenge is not clear or perhaps the problems listed this way still seem insurmountable let me echo the Harris' and say: "Do hard things!" At Flood this week we will begin studying about a young man who did just that. His name is Nehemiah and you can find his story in the good book. Let me encourage you to familiarize yourself with Nehemiah chapters 1-4 for this Wednesday. Press on!