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Friday, June 20, 2008

Live It Out Loud

This Sunday, June 22, the sermon that will be presented by Dr. Appleton at First Baptist Church of Jefferson, GA is entitled "The Will to Confess." The scripture passage for this sermon is Luke 18:35-19:10, the stories of the blind man at Jericho and Zacchaeus. The correlated reading for earlier in the service is 1 John 1:7: "if we walk in the light as He is in the light..."

Before I spoke with Dr. Appleton about the direction of the sermon, I noticed that both men spoke up (confession). The blind man had to tell Jesus what he wanted: "I want to see." Zacchaeus told Jesus what he would do. Both were commended by Jesus: "your faith has saved you" and "today salvation has come."

In the first instance, Jesus knew what the blind man needed, but suppose he had just mumbled or been so in awe that he couldn't speak. What if he had decided he didn't like being in the center of the crowd or had just asked for a blessing? (As I was writing, I almost wrote "just asked for an autograph" - how 20th century!)

No the man spoke up - he confessed his need, and Jesus in mercy granted sight.

Zacchaeus had Jesus invite Himself home for lunch. Of course, He knew that Zacc was interested because of the trouble he went to just to see Jesus. Being in the presence of Jesus caused Zacc to know and understand the error of his way resulting in his great confession of intention.

So how should we "walk in the light, as He is in the light"? To follow the example of these men, it means to speak up about our need for what Christ has to offer and then to speak up about the changes that Christ has made in our lives.

Dr. Appleton's comment on the sermon direction: Will to put yourself in a position so that Jesus can do His thing. (At least my paraphrase.)

* * * * * * *

This Sunday, we will let the children from Vacation Bible School sing a couple of their songs in the 10:50 a.m. service. One of these has a great message and actually could fit the topic of the day: "Let My Actions Match My Passion."

Our songs will reflect our recognition of Christ's ability ("Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus" and "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" - the choir sings "This Is the Day" by Warren Angell and Rose Marie Cooper), as well as the work He has done in our lives ("He Lifted Me" and "I Will Sing of My Redeemer"). We respond to God's call with "Just As I Am, O Lamb of God, I Come."

Walking in the Light ...

Let's just Live It Out Loud (in word and deed)!!


Friday, June 13, 2008

Father's Day

May I first remind the reader, that to me, Father's Day is not about being a father as much as having a father - and that makes it a celebration for everyone: man, woman, boy, or girl because we all have one.

(At this point, I take personal privilege and say to my dad, "Happy Father's Day! I love youl! Thank you for your sacrifices all through the years of my life, as well as your love and support. May God continue to bless you and mother.")

Now I do realize that some do not have good fathers. I remember many years ago after a sermon as a guest preacher in a former church, that a man approached me with the pain his wife felt because of an abusive father. I recognize that this is painful to the heart of God as it blasphemes the nature that He has chosen to identify Himself.

Thankfully for the fatherless, and for those who have father's who do not deserve respect, we all do have a Father - He who is the Perfect Father: loving, kind, merciful, and full of grace while also exercising discipline toward His children out of His great love for us.

So at this point, I thankfully wish our God and Father, a Happy Father's Day!


This Sunday at First Baptist Church of Jefferson, Georgia, we will celebrate not just the gift of father's, but the Father of us all, and recognize that we have a responsibility to follow the example of our godly ancestors as well as provide a godly example for those who come after us. Rev. Bruce Fields, Associate Minister at First Baptist Church, Gainesville, Georgia will preach on "What's a Father to Do?" using the text of Ephesians 6:1-4. May God have His way with each of us as we seek to follow our Lord's perfect example.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

In Our Place

We have a wonderful opportunity in a couple of days to show our loyalty to our Lord and to His church - we can be in our place of service on this Sunday, the Lord's Day.

In our services, we will sing of our Lord's love for us and our need to love others in His name. We will be blessed by the ministry of Dr. Jon Appleton, former pastor of First Baptist Church, Athens, GA who served previously as the Interim Pastor of First Baptist Church, Jefferson.

We also have the opportunity to be involved in the final preparations for Vacation Bible School: Outrigger Island - Living God's Unshakeable Truth ("Know the Truth, Speak the Truth, Live the Truth") which will be each evening Monday - Friday, June 9 - 13, 5:30-8:00 p.m.

And if that is not enough, there will be a Church-wide Swim Party in the afternoon and a variety of other meetings. (See the church website,, for more information.)

This is no time to rest - to sit on our laurels. There is work to be done, ministry and service to be performed. The Lord's church needs to move forward and it needs each one of us to be ...

In Our Place!


A Skunk, a Retractable Leash, and God

Now if that title gets your interest, you will need to wander on over to my other blog Richard's Ramblings. At the very least, you will see a picture of my "baby."


Sunday, June 1, 2008

God Has Not!

Well the deed is done. Dr. Cary Hilliard, having resigned a few weeks ago, has preached his last sermon as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jefferson, Georgia.

Today was his last Sunday. The service was good. He had requested a celebrative service based on the theme of Baptism: A New Beginning so we sang several favorite gospel hymns and the choir presented a favorite by Mary McDonald "I Must Tell Jesus with Blessed Assurance."

There were, of course, the tears, the goodbyes, the hugs, the well wishes, and the fellowship meal in his honor. (That did remind me of Christmas, as all the eating began without the guest of honor being present.)

However, throughout the sermon there was the admonition to look ahead, to look forward, to rely on God's presence and His Spirit to continue moving ahead.

I was present in one of our Sunday School classes as they spoke of this event. I took the opportunity to mention that my desire was for the church to move forward - to grow if possible - at least to not sit down. I used the thoughts of President John Kennedy to challenge the class to "ask not what our church can do for me, but what can I do for my church."

Then the statement was made: "Pastor Cary has resigned, but God has not!"

Let us remember that our Leader is still seeking to lead and still seeking followers. May we be true and faithful to our calling.