Hello again friends,
As many of you know, we are resurrecting a form of “F.B.C. in July” that many of you may remember from 2019. By modifying some of our “regularly scheduled programming”, we are allowing several groups of people a bit of a break. In recent days I have come to appreciate the value of a break, which I’ll come back to in a moment. On the children’s ministry side of the equation, we will continue to have children’s church at 11:00 on Sundays, but all Sunday School and Wednesday evening children’s volunteers will get a break. All other Sunday School teachers will get a break. The Choir will get a break. It’s good for people who work so hard to get a bit of a reprieve! Perhaps even Ms. Leigh will get a break (if she’ll take it)!
On Sunday mornings, as you trickle in, join us in the Fellowship Hall for a time of refreshments and socialization before we worship together. On Wednesday evenings at 6:30, join us in the Fellowship Hall for fun together. The first Wednesday will be an ice cream social; the second will be a night of games; the third will be movie night; the fourth will be more games! Come on out, bring your friends, bring your kids and grandkids, and we’ll have multi-generation fun around the table together!
As many of you know, Pastor Jim and I attended the Southern Baptist Convention in Louisiana on June 12-15. [I’ll give you a full report of the Convention in another time and place.] June 16-24, I left New Orleans to vacate. By the time I returned from my two-week road trip, I’d traveled 2,800+ miles, driven through nine states, and poured ten tanks of fuel into my Jeep. Some of you know that it was my first full week of vacation since August 2021. I didn’t appreciate when I left town just how much I needed it. All this talk about giving people a break in July isn’t lost on me; the Lord spoke to me along the way about the value of retreat and rest.
Before leaving New Orleans, I visited the national World War II Museum. To say it was an eye-opening educational experience is a bit of an understatement. Like many others of us, I am way too good at taking this great country for granted. Not that I blindly think we’re perfect, but we truly are the last best hope against tyranny. I am dumbfounded at the resolve of “the greatest generation” and our ability to work together for a common end. O how I wish more of our young people could learn what I learned in that museum. It was an educational experience for me, and after I left, it was as if God whispered to my soul “it’s good for you to read, and learn, and explore, and apply biblical principles in a secular context”. I need to do a better job of stepping away from work to grow as a leader and learn new things.
While touring Vicksburg, Mississippi, I gained a bit of clarity of what it means to live under a siege. This has helped me appreciate the value in escape and retreat. I need to do a better job of “slipping out”, recharging, replenishing, and reorganizing, so that I can more strongly charge back into the fight.
While slowly winding through the mountains of Tennessee and western North Carolina, I saw shades of green I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. In stopping to take pictures at the most picturesque valleys God ever created, I breathed in the purest mountain air. I’m not sure anything has ever smelled so good in my life. In tasting fresh spring water bubbling up from pure stone, the trickle of the stream might have been the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. I need to do a better job of slowing down and smelling, and hearing, and seeing what God would have me to see, and hear, and smell. I need to spend more time beholding the beauty of God creation; it’s then that I gain appreciation for the beauty of its Creator. I need to pause more often and come to grips with how small I am, and how big He is.
While dining with friends in Louisiana and Alabama and Tennessee and Hayesville and Morganton, I was reminded of Psalm 34, which tells us to “taste and see that the Lord is good”. I need to do a better job of not just eating to survive, instead I need to sit and feast with people I love. I need to enjoy the flavors of new things, and favorite dishes, which nourish my body and soul together. I need to spend more time with friends, especially when I am not sure they are saved. I need to visit my friends more, because I’m never really sure how much Jesus they see elsewhere. I need to invest in their lives, so that God gives me more opportunities to have conversations about spiritual things. I need to better appreciate friends that I may view as “projects”, because they can be a great source of encouragement to me too!
While nearing the end of the Convention meeting, we read from Revelation 5 and sang songs about heaven, eternity, and the majesty of God. I sat with my head in my hands and wept at the thoughts of what is yet to come. I need to do a better job of worship. In doing so, I’ll see more clearly the glory of God. I need to sit in His presence. I need to long for the day when I’ll be in heaven. I need to want more people, more peoples, more tribes and languages and individuals, to be there with me. I need to do more about that each and every day. I need to do a better job. I need to work harder. I need to be more wise in how I manage my time, and e-mail, and telephone. I also need to remember that I am small and frail and not-as-smart-as-I-think-I-am. I need to lean upon the almighty out-stretched arm of the God of the universe.
Isn’t rest a precious thing? It is a gift of grace. I need rest and you do too. We have work to do, important work. Take breaks occasionally, so that we can work better, harder, more effectively together! If you have an opportunity to take a break in July, what will God reveal to you along the way?
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me,
all the days, all the days of my life!
Rev. Andrew J. Reynolds