Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dear Jed...



Dear Jed,
Thirty-five years ago, you and I punched a time-clock five days a week at Digital Equipment Company in Augusta, Maine. We were hardly more than boys back then. We even took a couple of college classes together at the University of Maine.

You were exceptionally bright, sunny, positive, and tenaciously committed to whatever goal you set. Without fear of contradiction, I can tell you that you have flitted in and out of my mind a thousand times since those days--days when you and I used to have some pretty significant conversations. Often, we talked about this life and life after death, even though at that time we believed life would go on forever. Those conversations led to a time when, in the place Sandy and I called home, you prayed to receive Christ. Me? I have never forgotten that. Truthfully, I worried that you may have.

But you didn't.

Our lives went in different directions for more than three decades. Then, a few months back we reconnected. You told me of your diagnosis of stage 4 cancer. Then, point by point, you went over that conversation we had and your decision to receive Christ so many years ago.

Now, you are in hospice care. Your dear wife Lynne and others lovingly surround you. Physically, I am not there, but trust me my friend, I have been drying tears all afternoon. Soon, you will pass through the shadowlands. Soon, you will find that Christ's promise of eternal life to those who believe is true.

Your Bride tells me that you are resting comfortably and encouraged me to find comfort in that. I'm trying, but I so wish we could have sat--face to face--and talked. One more time. I love you, Jed.

 

Friday, March 27, 2015

A New Cycle...

Yesterday's advance of changing seasons acted like the squeeze trigger on a spray-bottle releasing a mist of pollen from the pine trees. Yellowish-green spores hung in the air like smoke. Swirling winds drifted them to the pond where they formed swooshes like the foamy top of a Starbucks latte. Then everything--no matter what color it once was--took on a pollinated hue. My contact lenses were cloudy and my eyes itched. Spring fully engaged the southeast. Last night rain fell and cleared the air. The rippling surface of the pond is once again clear.

In these parts, Old Man Winter does little more than display fits of grumpiness. Winter months consist of a few days when blasts of chilled air coat dormant pastures with frosty crystals and skim puddles with sheen of ice. But he is gone for good, and now our long rectangular hedges form a bunting of green and purple that front the wrap-around porch declaring, "Spring has arrived!" A new cycle begins: birds building nests; deer criss-crossing our fields; days growing longer, and the sun rising higher. I love this place!













Thursday, March 26, 2015

Community: About Friendships (Pt. 2)

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. ~ Galatians 1:10

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. ~ Romans 12:18

All of us live in some kind of community. We have a circle of friends, family, or co-workers in our primary orbit. That being said, relationships can bring out the best in us, or result in our succumbing to our community's approval--when to do so--would result in God's disapproval.

The apostle states something we all know: deep within our core is the desire for approval. Generally speaking, approval comes from pleasing--not displeasing our peers. Yet, he was crystal clear, he knew that instances could arise where he couldn't twist his ethics and behavior in such a way as to simultaneously please both his God and his fellow man. He knew that his actions and allegiances would raise the dissenting eyebrow of one or the other. Paul knew that whomever he tried to please defined whose approval he most desired.

You notice that Paul also said, If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Once again, the apostle is clear. First, we have an enormous responsibility to seek to live peacefully in our world, but against that he says, its not always possible to do. Why? Because, for the one who serves Christ, it is impossible to live in the narrative of today's world (or during any epoch in history) without coming to a place where you must chose whose approval you most desire. Sooner or later the gauntlet is thrown down, and then we must declare our allegiance. You must chose peace with God or peace with godlessness.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Colored Eggs And Baskets Of Candy...

The walk to our mailbox, back and forth from our front door is just under one-half mile. At the beginning of my short sojourn when I walked out the front door pairs of blue birds and cardinals were flitting around the yard. Along my walk, I looked for deer tracks in the loose gravel and patches of sand that make up our winding driveway. No disappointment. Heart-shaped hoof-prints crossed the twisting drive that leads to Holland Road.

Each day, the grass grows greener and taller, and the days grow longer and warmer. Skin warming temperatures always bring to mind my friends and family that live in the northeast. People I love await green grass and a landscape to appear absent of dirty mounds and furrows of snow and slushy roads. In April, my mom and sister will arrive at The Shire for a week of relief from the stubborn grasp of winter, and the hesitant arrival of spring that has been shy to appear in the great State of Maine. Mom can't wait to attend Hamilton Baptist Church and hear her eldest son preach the Word of God and to see the place Sandy and I live that I have written so much about. We can't wait for my Mom and sister, Barb, to arrive and get a taste of southern hospitality and a respite from the harsh winter that has surrounded them since late October of 2014.

All of us, regardless of your religious leanings, are influenced by Easter. Which, to Christ-followers, supersedes Christmas as the highest and holiest season of Christian worship. Yet, for our post-Christian culture, it is little more than a holiday of seeking out colored eggs and baskets of candy. As a Christ-follower, I look forward to speaking to the spiritual impact, and rationally defended privilege of preaching of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Winter Is Past...

A couple times a day I ride by oceans of hay fields that are part of Standing Boy Farm. Gently, like waves on the sea, warm breezes cause those grasses, the first signs of spring to shimmer and dance. Over the last month the sun has been pouring its warm rays on the pastures. Spring rains fall, and cause the once dull amber expanses to give way to spears of emerald green rye grass that stretch toward the heavens. Dotting the landscape, a herd of beef cattle eat and meander from one tuft of grass to another. Storage barns form islands of manmade structures that stand out amidst the cooperative handiwork of God and man.

Here at The Shire, the fescue grass comes to life, too. As of yet, the turkeys have been shy to make their spring appearance, but soon they will be scratching at the earth scavenging bugs and buds. Just before sundown--moving from west to east--seven deer emerged from the wood line and nervously started and stopped--then started again--across our pastures. At the end of the procession was one large deer; I presume it was an antler-less buck.

As I write, rain pours down and rain patters audibly off our roof. From sun-up to sun-down we have been under intermittent showers, and a layer of clouds that have hung low over The Shire and Harris County. Tomorrow, shafts of sunlight will break through the cracks in the gray canopy. Winter is past... 

First Sunday...

Today was my first Sunday as the Sr. Pastor at Hamilton Baptist Church. I felt an incredible freedom as I brought the message that connected the opening scripture verses from  Genesis 1, John 1, and Acts 1 (there is a beautiful connection). When I finished speaking I gave an invitation for all who listened to join Sandy and me at the altar and prayerfully commit our hearts to seeking God's heart. Many joined us.

I live with a confidence that as we at Hamilton Baptist Church live completely dependent on the truth that Christ promised, "I will build my Church," God will add to our number in the days ahead. I believe He will take us deeper into what it means to be Christ-followers, as well. However, I read recently about a pastor who once approached Charles Haddon Spurgeon--the great English preacher--and complained to him that the church he was currently leading was too small. Spurgeon asked the pastor how many people he spoke to on a Sunday. When the preacher told him, Spurgeon replied that perhaps it was enough people to give an accounting for when the preacher stands before God.

I couldn't agree more with C.H. Spurgeon...

  

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Invitation

To our friends in the area:
If you are not plugged into a spiritual community, or, you are exploring the possibility of doing so, I extend to you an invitation to visit us at Hamilton Baptist Church tomorrow morning. We are located in Hamilton, GA. and easy to find.
Worship begins at 11a.m., and I believe you will be pleasantly surprised by the friendliness and atmosphere of genuine welcome and worship. Childcare is also available.
This will be my first Sunday as their Pastor, and Sandy and I, look forward to connecting with our new faith community. Best of all, our new church community has a great desire to find ways to connect with the community at large.
Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill and Sandy

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Compass--Enjoying The Adventure Of Faith

Many of you know that I have recently accepted a call to become the pastor of Hamilton Baptist Church in Hamilton, GA. Soon, Sandy and I will be starting a community group/class that will meet for one hour, beginning at 9:45 a.m., at Hamilton Baptist Church on Sunday mornings.
Our purpose will be to help each other find our way personally and in community in journey with God. The name of our gathering will be called: Compass--Enjoying the Adventure of Faith.
If you are interested in being part of this new start-up class, please private message me, or, you can email me at bill.shorey@gmail. com
Enjoying the adventure (join us)!
Bill and Sandy

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Too Much Beauty For Words… :-)




A New Adventure...

Over the last couple of months I have met with the Search Committee of Hamilton Baptist Church. They also came to another church where I was speaking to hear me. In spite of this [you're smiling] they extended an invitation to candidate as their pastor. This morning I spoke to the congregation, and after the service the church voted to call me as their pastor. We all believe this is God's leading and provision. I am grateful beyond words for this opportunity, and I look forward with optimistic anticipation to what God has in store for us as we follow His lead. 

I also want to thank the many friends who made the special effort to attend as guests at Hamilton Baptist Church this morning. It was good to see so many people with whom we share a long spiritual history. Lots of people at Hamilton Baptist are hoping you will return!

We at Hamilton Baptist Church are praying that as we begin this adventure together, our church will grow in every way that would reflect the glory of God's Presence among us and His intentions for this world.  
  
I am equally grateful that I will continue to have face to face contact on a weekly basis with hundreds of people who do not have a spiritual community through my continued employment with Corporate Chaplains of America and Columbus Regional Health System.

Enjoying the Adventure...  


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sunset...

Josh and his mom backlit by a beautiful sunset

Need to paint this...

And this...

And this...


Sunsets around The Shire and Standing Boy Creek give glimpses to some of the Creator's artistic imagination. Tonight, along with Josh and four students from the University of Tennessee, we took the trail through the woods that opens up to hundreds of acres of pasture and a colorful palette along the western horizon.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Community: Our Need For Friends (Part 1)

By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. ~ C.S Lewis

We need solitude. In fact, if we can't stand to be alone, that, in itself, tells us something in our interior is out of balance. Certainly, a thinker like C.S. Lewis enjoyed his own company. But Lewis also knew the importance of community. He was aware there was much more to himself than even his keen insight could see or his great intellect could sort out. He knew that in the presence of community previously unknown facets of himself could be uncovered and then integrated into the whole man God intended him to be. He knew that without interchanges with different people much of who he was as a person would lay dormant. Community is the catalyst to bring to light, to life, into focus, and fruitful employment a well rounded man.

Think about the different people in your life. Think about the different facets they have revealed. How have they have called you up and out of yourself?

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens the countenance of a friend. ~ Proverbs 27:17


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday's Leap Forward...

This morning I spoke to both services at Rivertown Church. Rivertown has a diverse make-up in age and ethnicity. David Rathel, who is the Lead Pastor, along with the staff and congregation, have done an incredible job of following God's lead resulting in a multi-racial congregation that is truly a reflection of the community where it ministers. As I was driving from Cataula to Columbus where the church is located I wondered how the early service attendance would be affected due to the time change. It was a pleasant surprise that the one-hour leap forward didn't dent the attendance. In the second service we were blessed to have two adults pray to receive Christ. That always makes for a good day!

This afternoon, Sandy and I built a fire by the pond. Curling smoke, that couldn't make up its mind which way it would blow, chased us around the full circumference of the fire pit for several laps. Later, we got on the 4 wheeler, crossed Standing Boy Creek in a couple places, and rode winding trails through the woods. Stopping at the edge of a secluded lake we watched turtles plop off logs and take cover in the murky water. From there, we skirted the edge of one of our neighbor's fields where a couple dozen young cows meandered over to the barbed wire fence that sequestered them stared at us.

Over the last two days the weather has been glorious. Trees are transforming from muted winter colors to varying shades of red buds and multiple green leaves. Our shrubs around the house are splashed with purples, maroons, and yellows. Ground-cover is slowly overwhelming the dead blonde grass. Spiked shoots of wild onions reach for the sun. Spring is just around the corner…


Monday, March 2, 2015

Back At The Shire

I am sitting on the front porch, it's 67 degrees outside. Hundreds of tree frogs are singing. Above me the sky is gray and silver with streaks of blue. Red buds are beginning to appear on the trees along the edges of the fields.
I moved around to the back of the house where I can see the pond. My presence disturbed a duck that wildly flapped, treaded water, and then rose into the air. The soft green hue of the willow tree is beautiful enough to make you weep. Threads of monofilament line dangling from bare branches give evidence of poor casts and poor fishermen, but great memories...

Back From Peru



At Iquitos we loaded our gear onto a boat and headed toward the big water of the Amazon. Our first stop would be several hours downstream in Orillanda where we would construct a new church building from the ground up. Flood waters had destroyed the previous one. Three of us, along with an interpreter, would leave the next morning and travel further into the jungle to the village of Irlanda.

Once in Irlanda, I saw many familiar faces; Peruvians I had met there last year. About 80 people make up its community. Children outnumber the adults 4 to 1. We stowed our gear and within minutes the kids were following us like our shadows. I Opened a bag of Jolly Rogers hard candy and then watched as another wave of dark haired little ones came pouring out from under the houses built on stilts; drawn like metal shavings to a magnet.

Off in another corner of the village we went to the spot where we would construct a pen for rabbits to be raised. Rabbits are a good and quickly renewable source of protein, and their droppings are great fertilizer. We brought the resources necessary for the Peruvians to build it, and 5 bunnies (1 male) to get the process going. It's interesting to see the children's relationship with the chickens, and ducks. They enjoy them as pets, but do not become so attached that they are distressed when it's time to have them for the next meal.

As an aside... we got very little sleep. Roosters crowed all night, and due to the high water, dozens of dogs were concentrated on the high ground of the village and fought all night. I must say that the Amazon has some of the most unappetizing looking fish I have ever seen, but they do taste good. Piranha was on the menu. Every day several women provided us with a really good meal; usually fish and rice. Once we had chicken.

Most of our time was spent with the children. We read to them, swam with them, and played with them. In the evenings we had church services with their parents, and the children sang for us. Just before dark there were volley ball and soccer matches among the villagers. They can flat-out play!

We were constantly on the lookout for opportunities to serve the villagers any way we could, but one of the main reasons for me to be in Peru was to get to the village called Leta. Leta is where Moses lives. Moses is a young believer that wants to be a pastor and spiritual leader in his village. There is a jungle trail from Irlanda to Leta, but this is the rainy season, and the trail was under 4-5 feet of water. There was no boat or canoe in Irlanda, so if I was going to get to Leta I would have to wade or swim.

My Peruvian guide led the way and we started down the trail to Leta. When dry ground disappeared, thankfully, the water rose no higher than my armpits! I think the villagers were pretty surprised and curious when this white haired man came walking out of the jungle and into their village. My translator and I were warmly received at every house, and I was able to share the gospel with small groups that gathered. With each group of people I answered questions and then prayed with them.

Before I left Leta I told them that another group of missionaries would be coming in June, and I asked the village elders if they would like them to come talk to them about God and interact with their children with stories and games. They responded very favorably. I asked them if they would like us to build a church for them (there are about 20 believers in the village). That question caused them to light up! There was one condition, I told them: like the Biblical Moses at the Red Sea, their young Moses would have to part the water so I could get back to Irlanda! They laughed and laughed!

We started back down the jungle trail for Irlanda. When we got to the water, Moses was waiting for us… with a canoe! He was smiling ear to ear!

We left Irlanda on Wednesday and headed back to Orillana to help finish construction on the church. Once in Orllana I got the sickest I can ever remember being. My body swelled to the point I feared my kidneys had somehow shut down. By Friday, the decision was to get me off the river and into the city of Iquitos in case my health got worse. I loaded up on cipro and other medicines we had (our guys are very experienced and prepared for such situations). I didn't get out of bed until it was time to leave on Saturday.

I am home, upright, and on the mend...

P.S. My camera died, but one of my comrades got lots more great pics that I will post when I get them.