Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ministry Fair

Today, First Baptist had a ministry fair to highlight the church's various ministries. It was also a chance to enlist others to participate in those ministries.
Sarah Williams (left) and another team member are talking to people about the member equipping ministry.
Candi Brown, Children's Minister, was dressed as an Egyptian princess, promoting the theme for this summer's Vacation Bible School.

Diane Dinsmore and Jane Pearson were surrounded by the puppets that are a part of their ministry.

Fran Hudgins was there to share about the hospitality ministry.

Steve Blanchard, Associate Pastor for Christian Compassion, was deep in a conversation with two of the ladies.
Billy Davis has been a volunteer chaplain with Central Virginia Raceway Ministries for seven years. The ministry serves NASCAR events at the Richmond International Raceway.
Ruth Hodge (right) has been involved in a ministry that helps new members assimilate into the congregation for many years.
Brenda Andrews (right) leads a ministry that provides showers, food and clothes to homeless in the community three days a week.
The church has a significant outreach to refugees in the community. There is a group of about fifty Bhutanese refugees who are in church every Sunday.
Rick Belfower speaks to a member about the church's compassion ministry.
I counted fifty-nine different ministry groups represented at the fair. The fair came at the end of the annual stewardship emphasis. Stewardship involves using our time and abilities just as much as it means giving our money. A church is filled with members who all have different skills, abilities and spiritual gifts. For the church to function effectively every member should use their abilities for the benefit of the church. I often suggest that a person should be involved in a ministry that capitalizes on their known abilities. But, in addition, we participate in a ministry that allows us to explore whether we have a gift or not.
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4: 11-13

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Arvol's 94th!

Today, February 16 is Charlotte's dad's 94th birthday. We traveled to Texas over the weekend in order to be with him and celebrate.

Arvol lives in the country outside of Jewett, Texas. He has care givers that come by and take care of him. Tori, pictured above is an EMT and takes care of him several days a week. She and the other care giver provide a vital service and we are thankful for them.
We had a quiet celebration, he is proud to make it to 94 and says his goal is to make it to 95.
Arvol and his daughters Linda, left, and Charlotte.

Linda and her cousin Gerry relax while watching the opening ceremonies at the Olympics. Gerry also lives nearby and often comes by to take Arvol for a ride and to get something to eat.
One of the challenges seniors face is maintaining their independence while at the same time being able to receive the vital services they need. Arvol is fiercely independent and wants to stay that way. He would love it he could die in the home that he shared with his wife, Lou Ella, for many years. We want to honor his desires at the same time we want to make sure his needs are met.
Ecclesiastes 12
1 Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them"-
6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, 7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Snow in Texas!

We traveled to Texas on Thursday, February 11 to celebrate Charlotte's father's birthday. We have dealt with more snow this year than we can remember. A friend sent me a note saying, "have a good trip and try thawing out!" Instead of thawing we were greeted by a record setting snow storm.
We heard that they were predicting one to three inches of snow, we didn't think much about that. Instead the Dallas/Fort Worth area received twelve and a half inches of snow, the most snow on the record books for a twenty four hour period.

Visibility was a challenge and there were no snow plows!

The highway signs were covered with snow.
My brother and sister-in-law, Eddie and Linda, posing in the snow.

We stopped at a service station for a break and were greeted by the night manager, Anthony Lloyd (right) and his staff in typical Texas fashion. The drive that normally takes two hours took us three and a half hours.

Charlotte's dad, Arvol Willingham, lives in the open country in Leon County near Jewett, TX.

They had about two or three inches of snow which is relatively rare for this part of Texas.

The dirt road, Beddingfield Road, leads to the house. This part of the road is completely covered by tree branches. In the summer there is a canopy of green. This time there is a canopy of snow covered branches.

Linda and Eddie met us at DFW airport and Eddie drove us to Jewett. It was a nail-biter with perhaps twenty cars in the ditch along the way. We made it without a problem although it did take us almost twice as long as normal to take the trip. I was thankful!

The experience gives literal meaning to a verse I have quoted often over the past year!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3: 5-6

Snow Sundays at First Baptist

Last Sunday was another Sunday with fresh snow on the ground. For the second Sunday in the a row the normal Sunday schedule was reduced to the 11 AM service.

We met Al, 94, as we were entering the building. Al is the usher that usually gives us our bulletin as we enter the balcony on Sunday mornings. On this snowy Sunday, he drives himself as usual. He would not think of missing worship!

First Baptist has a very stately looking building that is accented with the snow.
We arrived early and had a chance to sit and visit with Bev for a few minutes before the service started.
Phil Mitchell, the minister of music, leads the choir in 'Here Am I, Send Me!" based on Isaiah 6. One the top right is Lewis our Sunday school teacher, his wife Toni, is on the bottom right.

Pastor Jim Somerville, introduces communion by pouring the juice into the goblet.

Associate Pastor, Steve Booth, and the Pastor serve a member communion. This Sunday, there were not enough deacons available to serve communion in the traditional fashion.

At the close of the service the pastor recognized Becky Payne for twenty years of service to the church.
On the down side, the weather has played havoc with churches in the Richmond area this year. Most churches cancelled services for two weeks in a row. The same thing happened in late December. When that happens churches have a tough time making up the loss in giving. Most churches are wrestling with tight budgets because of the recession. They will survive and do well, but it does require leadership to trust that God will provide the needs.
On the up side, the smaller congregation does make for a more intimate worship experience. We were all seated closer to the platform. The balcony was closed. It was not hard to see. There was greater interaction with everyone. I was glad I was there.
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10: 22-25

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Really Great Neighbors

I had some surgery two and a half weeks ago (hernia repair). The surgeon was very specific about not lifting anything heavier than ten pounds for two weeks. One week later we were waiting for a storm that would drop twelve inches of snow on Richmond. Ordinarily I would get out and clear the driveway, but not this time! In anticipation of the storm I called one of our neighbors to see if I could hire their sons to clear our driveway. Well the whole family showed up the next day to start the project!

Jeffrey worked hard on the project.

The snow was so dry and light that Robinette was able to use a leaf blower to clear the stairs that lead to our side door.

The next day, Jeff, another neighbor helped clear some of the crusted snow around the driveway apron.

A week later we had another five inches of snow on the ground. I started clearing away some of the snow and withing five minutes two families were politely pushing me to one side. Jeff (a different Jeff) Lee, Sue, Robinette, Jeffrey, Benjamin and Rudy the dog were all pitching in. It was awesome and I was grateful!

It really is good to have such good neighbors. It has always been hard to let people do things for me. One of the things my mother once told me was, "Jim, sometimes you need to let people be good to you." She was right.

Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. ...Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4: 14, 17-19

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snow Again

This weekend we had a different kind of storm. It snowed most of the day on Friday, but the temperature stayed around 32 degrees so there were several inches of snow but most of it melted during the day. Then it rained most of the night. Early in the morning the rain turned to snow again, it snowed rest of the day.

With the overnight rain, the trees were wet and the snow started sticking to the trees.

Charlotte ventured out for a few minutes to check out the snow.

As the snow continued the trees turned white.

Our house with another blanket of white.
As the day progressed the snow continued to fall.

By Sunday morning the view outside our bathroom window revealed a winter wonderland.

With all of the snow, many are saying they are tired of it, not me. I still love the way the snow covers everything. Everything gets very quiet. It is beautiful and peaceful.
He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.
He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast?
He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.
He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel.
Psalm 147: 16-19

Saturday, February 6, 2010

We have not had much snow in Richmond for several years. But, this year we have had more snow than in the past three combined! We had a storm come through just before Christmas that left over a foot of snow. This past weekend (January 30-31) we had another storm that dropped an additional foot of snow. This time the snow was a very dry powder. Then this weekend we had another storm come through; but more about that in tomorrow's blog.

The scene last Sunday morning, the day after the storm was serene and spectacular.

The tree in the cul-d-sac in front of our house was majestic.

The snow on top of the mailbox gives a good indication of the depth of the snow.

Our house was surrounded with a blanket of snow.

By Sunday afternoon the icicles were reaching five to six feet in length.

A storm like this in my part of the country (Virginia) has a way of bringing everything to a halt. I love a snow day as much as anyone does. Everyone stays home, neighbors get out and clean their driveways and help each other out. The beauty of the snow cover simply enhances the beauty of the day and gives you the feeling that everything is going to be OK.

But, there is another side to snow days. Small business owners really suffer. When the snow comes people stay home and business comes to a screeching halt. When the customers don't come, it is very hard to pay the rent and make a living. Another downside to snow days is that people do have accidents. I saw four of them today. Some were simply cars in the ditch. In other cases the cars were badly damaged.

Snow days are more than an extra day off and a chance to cozy up to the fire and eat some goodies. It is a time when many struggle and others suffer.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Romans 8:28-30