Dear Abby

Dear Abby

Dear Abby,

Until today, these words would only call to mind to a long-forgotten newspaper column or a quirky song by one your Pop’s favorite songwriters. But thanks to you, those words have a new point of reference – a little girl that has stolen my heart, as you have and will many others. Abby, they have named you. And dear you are. Dear Abby, indeed. I like the sound of that.

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A Mother’s Loving Impact

Happy Mother's Day

Where does one begin to tell the story and weigh the loving impact of the mothers in their life? You’ve got a story. Not a perfect one – no one’s is. But one marked with enough love, support, and providence to know you would not be who and where you are today without them. I know I wouldn’t be. And I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you about them.

Mary Whitston was a farmer’s wife, widowed at 38, while expecting her only child. With little education and no capacity to work the land, she left it all to her departed husbands’s family and moved to the cotton mill city of Moultrie, Georgia. Her sister Eulala Boatwright made the journey with her. One worked the first shift, the other the second, living in a mill-village four-room house. They raised that child. Eulala never married and lived to be 97, owning her health and vitality to the fact that she never had to live with a man. That daughter, whose birth certificate shows her as named after her dad, often said she would never have known which of these two women was her mother had she not been told. It was a non-traditional family before it was cool. And what a job they did.

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Dr. Phil Lilly

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When I walked up to the door of FBC for the first time, it was Phil Lilly who met me at the door. In typical Phil fashion, he had two umbrellas and a welcome manual ready to share. It did not take me long to realize the role he had played in holding things as together as possible during the interim period and what a humble, hard-working servant he was and still is. He covers bases with the best of them, as he teaches, visits, officiates, negotiates, and holds frank and friendly discussions with the FDOT. And he has done all this while reducing his role to part-time and taking precious little time away from home.

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Paving the Way

FBC Parking Lot

Work began this week on a project that I have envisioned since the first time Lisa and I sat foot on the church grounds over a year ago. We are sealing and striping the parking lots all around our facility. We are close to half-way done, and it does look good. Better than that, it feels good. It feels good to know that our first impression just got a lot better. It feels good to have clearly defined places to park. It feels good because new guests will have a better view of the church, literally and figuratively. And it feels good because it is a good first step in honoring God by the way we are taking care of the resources He has blessed us with.

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High Notes

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What a week it was for a celebration of the resurrection of our Lord! It was great to look out and see and feel a fuller house on Sunday morning. That extra few hundred folks did a lot to provide energy and gravity to a most important service. The music was beyond wonderful! I can’t say thank you enough to Chris, Dawne, Ray, Megan, choir, band, and orchestra for lifting up both our people and the name of the Lord in such a marvelous way. And I have to say, the Hallelujah Chorus rocked the house and sent us all out with strong and joyful hearts. Lenny’s guitar riff near the end was as impressive as it was unexpected. I’m pretty sure Handel did not imagine it that way, but would have loved it. I know I did.

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Waiting for the Victory

Maundy Thursday

I just returned from our church family observance of Maundy Thursday in the narthex. Traditionally, it’s not a big day on the non-liturgical calendar, but it is a favorite of mine. To gather at the church at an odd hour on an odd day is to remind ourselves that something different is in the air. Something significant. Something history-making and life changing.

On our Lord’s last night before the events of Good Friday, he chose to share a meal with those closest to him. He chose two symbolic acts to define his life and ministry and to serve as an example for ours. He took the elements of the meal, bread and wine, and used them as a holy metaphor for the impending atonement. And he took a towel and washed the feet of those who followed him. As he did, they likely heard the echoes of the Galilean stranger: “If you want to be great in God’s Kingdom, learn to be the servant of all.”

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Service of Remembrance

The Lord's Supper Painting

Sunday marks the beginning of the week that Christians call Holy. It begins with Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem where he was hailed as a conquering hero. It ends with the ultimate and ultimately unexpected triumphs over sin and death’ the resurrection. But a lot happened between those two bookends. One of those was the supper he shared with his disciples on Thursday of that week.

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Spiritual Formation Doesn’t Happen in Absent Community

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In this week’s edition of the FBC E-News, you will find a blog by Captain Randy Deering. Randy has been brought aboard – no pun intended, so I’ll leave it in anyway – to help us expand the breadth, width, and depth of our small group ministry. Simply put, no matter what we do in other areas of church life, we will forever be limited or unleashed by the degree and manner to which we involve people beyond the morning worship.

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The Road to Blessing

Sermon On The Mount

Preaching through the Beatitudes has gotten me to thinking a lot about the whole concept of blessing. After all, Jesus kicked off his preaching ministry by offering blessings in spades. So it is no surprise, then, that the faithful over the years have raised hearts and voices asking for and appreciating the outpouring of God’s bounty upon us. “Showers of Blessing” kind of resounds that idea. So does “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow.” “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” We need them. He has them. Say please and thank you. Just seems right. And if we don’t think about it much, it seems easy. But it’s not.

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Searching for Happiness

Books

Just for kicks, I went to one of my favorite cyber haunts, bn.com. That’s Barnes and Noble, one of the last standing bookstore chains in America, and the source of more books and ideas than the law allows. The day I discovered I could go from “that looks interesting” to “that’s ready to read on my iPad,” true danger emerged. The curious meaning-monger in me can go on book binges without leaving my couch or desk. And by the brilliance of web browser “cookies,” they always seem to know how to recommend something that, if not always on my mind, at least had been recently. Clever marketing – clever like crack to an idea-chaser like me.

Since I’m preaching on “Living Happy in a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” I entered “happiness” into the cue. Eight thousand, two hundred and three book suggestions later, I was back where I started. Thousands of derivations on a theme preached on a Galilean hillside two thousand years ago still can’t say it any better. “Blessed are” followed by the principles that precede the promise. And judging by the titles and themes on my cursory product reviews, we seem a lot further from it now than then.

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