Sunday, April 16, 2017

Little Is Much...

I do not know who originally coined the words, Little is much when God is in it. But this morning exactly 100 people gathered at Hamilton Baptist Church to focus on and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For us, it was like one of Jesus' miracles during his incarnation--the multiplication of the five loaves and two fish.

How So?

Two years ago about twenty of us gathered in the sanctuary on Easter morning. I think there were five little ones in children's church and nursery. Since then a handful of those people stayed by the stuff, prayed, and believed God could resurrect His church in Hamilton, Georgia.

Today, it was all hands on deck. Rural churches do not have the luxury of bulging budgets and multiple paid church staff. At HBC, even their pastor is tri-vocational. But everybody was prayed up, their sleeves were rolled-up, and they pitched in. Folks we had never before met gathered for brunch preceding the Worship hour at 11 a.m. Shortly after the bell in the steeple rang out children's church was at high capacity. Volunteers cared for them and ministered to them. Our worship team sang songs exalting Jesus Christ. At times, I was overwhelmed with emotion--the words blurred, and I was left speechless. As the Word of God was read and delivered listeners were tracking with the message. It was a special gathering.

We concluded with the Aaronic Blessing found in the Old Testament and prayed over God's people for millennia:

The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His face on you and give you peace. ~ Numbers 6:24-26

Indeed He has...

The LORD blessed us
The LORD made His face shine on us
The LORD was gracious to us
The LORD looked on us and gave us peace

Little is much when God is in it, and today God made much of little...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

We Will Gather

Swirls and turbulence disrupt the calm surface of the pond giving evidence the recently hatched brim are being chased down by hungry bass. Larger humps, preceded by smaller humps give away the presence of turtles who make three acres of water their home. Birds continue to sing and flit from branch to branch, and bank to bank.

A group of us spent much of the day preparing food, setting up tables and chairs, and grooming the landscape around the nearly two-hundred hear old building which provides a sanctuary for worship. Tomorrow will be the highest attendance we've experienced in the two years I've been leading the congregation of Hamilton Baptist Church. No one will write books about us, but we believe our presence in a small southern town of barely more than a thousand matters. We will break bread at 9:30-10:30.  At 11 a.m. the tiny hands of one of our children will grab the thick rope that reaches up into the bell tower. Pulling with all their might, a deep gong will ring out as the bell sways and the clapper strikes the sides. The entire town know we are gathered.

Most importantly, God will know we are gathered. Inside, we will settle into one-hundred year old pews. Poetic lyrics, written by contemporary Christ--followers as well as hymns written in the 1800's, true to the record of Jesus' resurrection will be sung. There will be prayers beseeching God's help--we always need His help. Scripture will be read aloud and declared to be God's Word, not man's. To some it will resonate. To some it will encourage. To some it will raise questions. To some it will mark a new beginning. But to whomever God sends His Word it will not return empty.

This Pastor will do his best to stay out of the way of the Spirit's work.



Friday, April 14, 2017

Pot Bellies

Have you ever driven down a street and had a squirrel run into the road in front of you? What do they do? Answer. They zig and zag forwards and then backwards in reckless confusion. Miraculously, most of the time, they avoid our tires.

But...

Put bird feeders in your yard and you will see the exact opposite; they have an unconquerable and undeterred will and plan to get to it!

At The Shire we feed deer, hummingbirds, cardinals, and flocks of migrating birds headed north and south. Deer corn is scattered across the pasture, thistle hangs in socks, and black oil sunflower seed rests in feeders. Our intention is not to feed squirrels; there are enough acorns and pine cones for them to forage to fill my pick-up truck bed.

But, no...

Those furry little acrobats have a genius for pilfering second to none! Today, after my friends left with a mess of bass and brim from the pond, I sat and watched a band of the grey robbers shimmy slippery steel poles, leap from flimsy branches onto the feeders, latch on with one paw and with a fury of swipes, bat seed onto the ground.

That's when I first noticed--in spite of the incredible amount of calories they must burn--ours have so much food they have pot bellies! No lie. As they sat on their haunches stuffing sunflower's future prodigy into their cheeks, their profile is shaped like a light bulb.

I just sat back and laughed...  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dirt Therapy

It's only Tuesday and I have gotten a lot of the outside work on The Shire completed. For me, it's dirt therapy. Porches and decks pressure washed, weed-whacked about a half-mile of fence lines and lawn edges, mowed acres, raked up enough branches to build a debris hut, made dinner the last two nights, and worked on messages for the next 8 weeks.

Now I'm sitting by the pond. A deer meandered along the dam to the south and calmly slipped down into the hardwood bottom. Birds keep the evening cheerful with their chirps and peeps. Frogs chime in. Beneath the willow tree bass bust the surface and chase down brim. My understanding is that brim hatch every full moon. Look up at the night sky and you will see it's dinner time for predator fish. Contrails of jets leave their signature white lines slicing through the dimming blue sky then disappear into banks of grey and silver clouds. The sun has dropped behind the horizon; my computer screen grows brighter.

Resurrection Sunday is just days away, and I'm looking forward to gathering with friends to worship. In the meantime I'm working on a new series of messages: Chain Breaker. It's a great privilege to follow-up the Passion Week series with the hope that Christ's rising from the grave conquered the last enemy--Death.

Speaking of friends; a couple are coming by Friday morning to help reduce the bass and brim in our over-populated pond. Hard working guys who love the outdoors and never at a loss for words. Wish them luck.