You CAN Go Home Again

You CAN Go Home Again
A Celebration of All Things Renewed

Thomas Wolfe made the phrase “You can’t go home again” with his bestseller. But unlike the fiction that he penned, the truth is you CAN go home again. After all my children left the house, I accepted and then adjusted to the “empty nest syndrome.” Then, my son asked to move back in. He stayed home for a little more than a year.

I had the pleasure (usually) of living with him and trying to be an influence on him. He moved out this summer as my youngest daughter, Laura, asked to move back home. Upon her arrival, God gave me the opportunity to have a greater influence in her life too. From changing to private school to becoming active in church life, Laura’s life has drastically changed. What a blessing that God would allow me this privilege.

Just last week, my middle daughter Melissa moved back home. These moves are nothing less than blessings for me, and I trust they are for my children. Some had been told by others that I would never let them move back in–that they could never finish school. What lies is the Enemy telling you?

Once again, my home is filled with laughter, friends coming over, and well, piles of laundry. Truth is, as much as I wanted my children to be back at home with me, our Heavenly Father wants that with us so much more.

Scripture shows us how our Father God wants us to come back home to Him. So much so that He willingly gave us His only Son to be killed–crucified on a cross–that our relationship might be restored. The Lord wants to be your Father experientially as He already is positionally. Have you been away from home for far too long? Are you ready to go back home? The prodigal son, in Scripture, was. He was willing to do anything to be back in relationship with his father. In reality, all he had to do was to return. That meant to turn away from where he was and turn his heart and direction to that of his father.

Psalm 84 reminds us of how good it is to be home:

How lovely are Your dwelling places,

O Lord of hosts!

My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord;

My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God…

How blessed are those who dwell in Your house!

They are ever praising You.

Remember, You CAN Go Home Again! What’s keeping you from going?

The Greatest Generation

The Greatest Generation

When one thinks of the term, “the greatest generation,” immediately the Tom Brokaw book is recounted. But for me, when I think of the greatest generation, I think of those men and women who gave tirelessly and selflessly of themselves for the good of their country, their families, and yes, their faith.

I’m blessed in that my mom and dad are part of that greatest generation. I have seen their consistent lifestyles my entire life. Tom Brokaw says in his book, “The WWII generation shares so many common values: duty, honor, country, personal responsibility and the marriage vow ‘For better or for worse’–it was the last generation in which, broadly speaking, marriage was a commitment and divorce was not an option.” My parents have been great examples of that in their more than 66 years of marriage. I’m truly blessed to have been raised in a Godly home with biblical values instilled in me throughout my childhood, youth, and still even in my adulthood.

Recently, my dad sat down in front of cameras to tell of some of his World War Two experiences. I’m delighted to now be able to share that video with you. I hope you will watch, learn, take on the characteristics of the people that are The Greatest Generation.

What’s Your Story?

What’s Your Story?

Over the past two weeks, Senior Pastor Stephen Byrd and I have done what I’ve never heard of any other pastor/staff doing. We have been meeting with each of our church family members, in 30 minute segments, to hear their stories. You know, where were you born? how did you all meet? how did you come to know Christ? how can we pray for you?

To date, we have met with around 150 people. Daunting task? You bet! But it has been so worth the time and energy. What we thought would be a great time to minister to our church family boomeranged on us. I have been so blessed to hear the stories of God’s faithfulness in each person’s life. Through amazingly difficult struggles and setbacks to victory and joy through Jesus Christ, the stories have been consistent! Jesus Christ is sufficient for our needs.

At times (because we have spent approximately 13 hours per day plus Saturdays doing this) a tiring challenge, this has been a beautiful walk with the Lord. So, how about you? What is your story? So often we cross paths with our friends and family members, but we never stop to talk about all that God has done in, through, and for us. Acts 4:20 says, “for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Isn’t that the way it should be. The family of God should be sharing with each other and with our unsaved friends the greatness of God constantly! Can you imagine how many church fights and how much gossip would dissipate if our churches spent more time with each other rather than against each other?

In God’s Word, Paul told Timothy, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8). Never be ashamed of your testimony! It is exclusive to you, because it is the reflection of what God has done for you! In fact, you are the only one who can tell (testify) to God’s activity in your life.

Although we’re not yet quite halfway through our meetings with the family, I look forward to hearing the other stories from our church family. In fact, I can’t think of any better way for a Pastor and pastoral staff to minister to their church and show love and care than to do this. What an investment! Small group Bible studies, families, discipling groups, should all listen to each other and make the concerted effort to really know each other. For it is in this way that we can know how to pray, and we can encourage and edify the Body of Christ!

From a worship standpoint, I will never again do worship planning without remembering some of these stories and knowing fresh how God may use the songs we sing to minister to His people and to give each of us a fresh expression of praise for God through His attributes displayed.

What’s your story? Why not take a minute right now and write a few sentences in the comments section below and testify to God’s goodness in your life. You will be a blessing to countless others around the world!

Blessings!

UNSTOPPABLE

I’m always excited when our Worship Ministry presents a new musical or worship event. My excitement has grown with the evening we have been preparing for Sunday night, August 29. I first heard this music as First Baptist Woodstock, GA premiered it in late April/early May. The songs so moved me as I sat and worshipped, that I was speechless and often tear-filled. The lyrics so moved me to remind me (1) how much He loves me, (2) how powerful He is in my life, (3) how He completely forgives, (4) how He demands my all, (5) and what a fortress He is in my life.

Psalm 27 states,

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.
One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the Lord will take me up.
Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.

Cliff Duren has written a wonderful song based on this Psalm, and the Celebration Choir does a magnificent job of singing it as they worship. Along with this, there are 12 other songs of equal magnitude and encouragement.

Last night at our final dress rehearsal, I asked the choir to share what song had ministered the most to them, and I received answers that included almost every song. What a great time of testimony, worship, and prayer we had. I know the same will be true for you if you join us Sunday night, August 29, at 6:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church, Mableton, GA. Trust me, any schedule conflict and any driving distance will be worth it to you when God speaks to you to show you the love, power, and encouragement He has for you. I hope you’ll come, and know that for many weeks now, I have been praying that God would attract many to be here for His glory. Is He calling you?

Find more information here

Andy Get Your Gun

Dad and me at the range after trying out the shotgun.

My dad loves to tell stories of his past. Many of them I’ve heard before, but last week he surprised me with a new one. When he was 15, my dad, known to many of his friends as Andy, received a 16-guage shotgun from his father. He loved the gun and used it often for hunting. He kept the gun until the late 1940s. My brother was soon to be born and mom and dad needed some money, so my dad sold the gun for $25.

Just a few weeks ago, my dad, now 85, ran into the man who bought his long-sold shotgun. He asked the man if he stilled owned the gun, and the gentleman replied that he did still have it. My dad offered $100 to purchase the gun and the deal was done. This old shotgun, now discolored and worn from years of neglect was finally back in the arms of the man who learned to shoot with it as a boy. My dad spent more than two days cleaning and repairing the gun.

After sharing the story, Dad surprised me by telling me he went to all the trouble because he wanted me to have that gun. He had planned to give it to me in October for my birthday, but he just couldn’t wait. With great excitement, he brought the gun out–and it’s a beauty! It too, is my first gun. Sure, I’ve shot his guns for years but never owned one of my own. As excited as I was to have that old 16-guage shotgun, nothing would compare to the work and love that came behind that gun.

Isn’t it just like our Heavenly Father! He loved us so much that He purchased our sin through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus; all because of His great love. He went the distance just so that we could be in relationship with Him forever.

No doubt, I’ll cherish that old shotgun for the rest of my life, but never more than the relationship that I have with my dad.

L-R: Becca, Laura, Dad, Melissa
Laura, Becca, Dad, Mom, and Melissa

WELCOME TO THE NEW WEBSITE

I’m delighted to welcome you all to the new First Baptist Mableton website. Hopefully, many of you have arrived at my blog through the new website at fbcmableton.com. We have been preparing the new site now for several months and are quite proud of it. Along with a new look, there’s lots of new information available. AND, we now have our worship via video!

The Word Revealed, our new video ministry will give you the opportunity to hear Pastor Stephen Byrd as he preaches the Word each week at FBC. We hope to add some music from services too, as we work through copyright licenses.

I plan to write once a week on the blog, so why not begin a subscription and receive the new blogs automatically as they are released. They will also be released simultaneously on Facebook.

As always, I would love to hear from you! Share your comments and even your ideas for the blog. And YES, I will be bringing back the Monday Morning Musings!

Blessings!

When I Survey

The Celebration Choir of First Baptist, Mableton, presented The Journey: Easter Pageant for four years. The first two years were at FBC and the second two years were at the Mable House Amphitheatre. This video, from the 2003 presentation at the Amphitheatre was a moving experience. This crucifixion scene depicts some of what Jesus went through on our behalf.

We edited and produced this music video for the choir to sing with this past Sunday (Palm Sunday). I want to share it with you so that you can reflect on all that Christ has done on your behalf. We will be presenting a complete viewing of The Journey (2003) on Saturday, April 3, at 7:00 p.m. in the Worship Center at FBC Mableton. I would love for you to be there with us as we worship together. Then, Sunday, April 4 will be an incredible day of praise and worship, as we celebrate the resurrection of our King–Jesus.

Have a blessed Easter season