Thursday, December 19, 2013

Reflections on Giving

In a Thanksgiving blog I reflected on my gratitude for Towne View being a thankful church. This I week I have been reminded of how giving is woven into the fabric of our congregation. In recent weeks we have:

  • collected 108 shoe boxes of gifts to be distributed around the world through Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse
  • in partnership with Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree shared Christmas gifts with 25 children from 12 families who have a parent incarcerated
  • worked with Storehouse Ministries (Noonday Baptist Association) to distribute twelve Thanksgiving food baskets (w/turkeys) and six Christmas boxes (w/hams) to those in need in our community
  • shared Christmas caroling with the residents of Laurel's Edge and Highland Court- senior living facilities in our neighborhood
  • delivered a ream of paper to each of 34 classroom teachers at Chalker Elementary School
  • given generously to typhoon relief in the Philippines through Baptist World Aid of the Baptist World Alliance and to support overseas mission work through the annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions
We have given in partnership with other ministries, parachurch groups, and agencies to make a tangible difference in the lives of people.  Our spirit of giving is a worthy reflection of the Gift we celebrate this season.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nine days and counting

It's quiet on the construction site today. As I look out my window I see heavy equipment parked and almost five acres of Georgia clay turned into mud. Instead of tress crashing and dirt moving I am listening to the steady drip of water. Such things do not a happy preacher make!

The news headline reads "Nine Straight Days of Rain." I am not amused. My mind can't help but go back to the summer we broke ground on the previous building... and broke an extended drought in north Georgia.  I am not encouraged.   We have a tight schedule for the completion of our new facility. For the moment, I am not optimistic.

I know the soil needs replenishment and we all need the water supply renewed but I find myself looking up to heaven wanting to cry-out "why?" or "come on God, you know what we're trying to do here." Then I try to remind myself that "why not?" is just as good a question and that maybe I need to be open to what God is doing here.

This season we are reminded that the creator of the universe became Immanuel, "God with us." In sunshine and rain God is with us... loving us, working in us, and lovingly working through us.

Monday, November 25, 2013

I am thankful for...

Today I am thankful... for dedicated volunteers, faithful co-workers, Clemmie's cooking, and for watching dirt being moved outside my office window!

I am thankful for... a thankful church! Our services Sunday reminded me of the importance of thankful hearts and how a spirit of thankfulness is at the heart of Towne View.

Thankfulness, somewhat surprisingly, is an expression of humility. This spirit of gratitude recognizes that we couldn't- and can't- get through life on our own.  Medical professionals aid us with their skills, friends encourage us with their presence, teachers guide us with their experience, family blesses us with their love. I am thankful that when I'm empty, there's someone to "fill-me-up;" when I'm tired, there's someone to "pick-me-up;" and when I'm feeling a little down, there's someone to "lift-me-up." Our share time Sunday afternoon was filled with expressions of thankfulness from a church family for a church family that has been there in times of need.

Thankfulness is also an expression of hope. As the people of God we call Towne View Baptist Church where God has taken us gives us confident expectancy about where God will lead us. As individuals, families, and a family of families our experience of God's faithfulness allows us to face even the uncertainties of the future with the hope of God's enduring faithfulness.  Maybe this is why Paul encourages us to "not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Giving thanks is a simple gift with significant impact, for us we share a simple thank-you we keep ourselves grounded, honor God, and encourage others.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

God leads...we follow

My mind (admittedly easily distracted) has been all over the places in recent days.

A recent visit to Grady Hospital in Atlanta coincided with reminder that the first of November marked five years since Priscilla's near-fatal car accident.  I was reminded of her tenacious spirit, the care and skill of medical teams at Grady and Kennestone, the love and support of our families and church family, and of God's faithfulness.

We've begun to have regular meetings of our twenty-fifth anniversary committee. On March 2, 2014 we celebrate the first service of Towne View Baptist Church and remember God's faithfulness over these twenty-five years. We finds ourselves in the midst of a journey, hence the theme, "God Leads...We Follow." It has been exciting to share memories of the past and plan towards this future celebration.

And, of course, Sunday's ground-breaking ceremony signified an emphatic "yes" to God's future for Towne View. A ground-breaking ceremony is a small step in the construction process but a big step for our fellowship. As God leads, we follow.

Maybe it's all the service planning we're doing these days (this Sunday, ground-breaking, anniversary service, advent planning) but my heart and mind have been filled with music recently. This morning I am drawn to the simple chorus:

O God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You.
O God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You.
I will seek You in the morning and I will learn to walk in Your ways;
And step by step You'll lead me, and I will follow You all of my days.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I Love My Job!

I love my job! I love preaching and planning worship. I love the opportunity to share life with people at "big times" of sorrow and celebration and in quieter moments of meals and conversation. I love the challenge of sharing in the journey of faith with this community of faith.

One of my favorite parts of this job is the people that I work with.  God has blessed our church with a gifted, talented, service-oriented group of servants. Not all pastors are as fortunate as I in being able to genuinely enjoy those with whom he serves.

Tricia has been with us since the modular days.  Her pleasant demeanor and servant spirit help not only the ministers (though without her we'd be lost) but our church at large to more effectively accomplish our work.

Mr. Gray is the faithful steward of our facilities.  He's so much more than a custodian! Even now, with rented space, he keeps things in top shape and facilitates multiple many meetings and ministries.

Wanda continues a long line of exceptional accompanists at Towne View. She faithfully uses her gifts to support our choir, encourage our congregational singing, and inspire our worship.

Clemmie coordinates our family night suppers with the understanding that her ability to plan and prepare meals is her ministry. She "serves the Lord with gladness" as she serves the saints at Towne View.

Chris has made a tremendous impact on our church in the 15 months he has been with us so far. He has accomplished a rare feat- a youth minister loved as much by senior adults as by the youth group!

Scott is back- this time with a wife and kids! His musicianship and spirit supply leadership for our choir and for the "larger choir," aka the congregation.

Each of these folks excels at the responsibilities outlined in their respective job descriptions but bring that "something extra" that makes them- and their service- something special. Together, we take our job seriously without taking ourselves too seriously. Together we share our gifts in service to Christ and the Church. And we have a great Boss!

I love this job!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Day Before 9/11

Many of us have distinct, maybe even distressing, memories of where we were and what we were doing on the eventful morning of September 11, 2001. We remember shocking images and fearful responses. It was a day we will never forget.

But, where were we on September 10, 2001? Most of us were going about life in a "business as usual" mindset. Jobs, family, responsibilities- these were the things that occupied our minds. Until the phone rang or the "breaking news" graphic appeared and then we found ourselves suddenly, unexpectedly, alone, vulnerable, and afraid.

The reality is that we never know when such trauma might invade our lives. It may be international conflict, natural disaster, an e-mail from a family member, or a call from the doctor's office that can take today's "normal" and turn life upside-down. If we can't prepare for 9/11 on 9/10, how are we supposed to live on 9/12?

There is a greater reality:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.  Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations he has brought on the earth.  He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.  "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46:1-11

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Walk

My Dad died this morning.

Throughout the "necessaries" of the day I felt compelled to return to my walk. We lived in a fairly small house and without cell phones, computers, or cable television, my walk was the best way to escape the chaos of the house... and especially to get away from him.

First stop on the walk was the First Baptist Church of Palm City (now called "The Cross Church"). It was in the chilly, heavily-chlorinated water of the outdoor baptistery that I was immersed to mark the beginning of my journey as a follower of Christ.  He didn't come.

From there I would journey down the street to the outdoor chapel of the First Congregational Church of Palm City (now called "Coastal Life Church-" what is it with church names these days?). Seated on the concrete pews I could cry and pray and sing as I looked over the meandering waters of the south fork of the St. Lucie River. He wouldn't understand.

Today I followed the route and stopped again under the street light at the corner of 7th Street and McCord Avenue where on a summer evening in 1977 I said a simple "yes" to what I sensed to be a call to ministry.  I didn't tell him.

My Dad got a lot smarter while I was away at college. As I became a husband and father I learned that maybe he wasn't as bad at either as I once thought. I recognize his work ethic in the ways I conduct my ministry.

My Dad died this morning. As I re-traced the path of my walk I found myself wanting to be near him.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Thirtyone-derful Years

It was August 14, 1982 when Priscilla and I stood before family and friends in the crowded sanctuary of Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in Rome to exchange vows, make promises, and begin the journey of marriage. Across the years we have navigated better and worse, richer(?) and poorer, sickness and health, have loved and cherished, and, so far, have managed to not kill each other!

The weeks leading up to the wedding were slammed: Priscilla finished classes for her degree from Shorter; we moved our meager, mismatched possessions to apartment X-5 in Seminary Village; and I completed my responsibilities as Associate Pastor at Fifth Avenue. That church showered us with love, as have the good people of Shively Baptist Church in Louisville, Garden Lakes Baptist Church in Rome, and Towne View Baptist Church in Kennesaw.

We returned from our honeymoon in Hilton Head (Priscilla's Mom could only call it our "trip") and traveled to Louisville, started orientation, and a week later began classes as seminary students. Within a month I was asked to serve as Interim Youth Minister at Shively (where over the next 6 1/2 years I would successively serve as Youth Minister, Associate Pastor, and Pastor). In less than six weeks Priscilla had gone from college student to newly-wed to seminary student to minister's wife!

When I enrolled at Shorter my Dad became prophetic when he said, "you're going to find you a Georgia peach up there and never come back to Florida." I don't much like peaches (except in cobbler) but this "peach" is the love of my life.  I am grateful to God for providing a life-mate with the ability to help me not take myself so seriously, the compassion to invest her life in others, the love she shares so freely with the churches that we call family, the commitment it takes to parent four children (even four as bright and beautiful as ours!), and the sparkle in her eyes that first caught my attention thirty-two years ago.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A New Day

Most mornings I listen to local news-talk radio station on my drive into the office. As a "news junkie" I like to catch-up on what may have happened overnight and maybe receive a "heads-up" on the day's events.

I also like to hear the traffic reports. Sometimes I can tell the interstate is backed-up before I even reach Cobb Parkway. As I hear the reports and drive over I-75, I offer a brief prayer of thanksgiving that my day doesn't start with a long commute.

My favorite part of the broadcast is the weather report. It can be comforting (or frustrating) to know if I have dressed weather-appropriate. This particular meteorologist has developed a "meter" whereby he rates the weather for the day on a "1" (it's going to be miserable- go back home and go to bed) to "10" scale (perfect for the time of year). A "10" is even emphasized with the ringing of a bell!

Wouldn't it be nice to have some sort of meter that could project the day on more than just the weather? The clouds of disappointment, conflict, and fear sometimes obscure the sunshine of opportunity, friendship, and faith.

Or, maybe, each day we could rejoice and be glad for this is the day the Lord has made! Ding!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sharing Stories

Last weekend featured the annual gathering of the Conrad Family Reunion in Blue Ridge. The serenity of the mountain was shattered by 40-50 (someone was always coming or going) of my aunts and uncles, cousins and their children. As always, the food was good (and plentiful) and activities were abundant.

This year was a bit "off" for me as I hobbled with brace, boot, and walker.- aunts and uncles were running circles around me! I was especially disappointed not to be able to tube the Toccoa River- something I've done annually for close to 40 years!

My limited mobility kept me still more than usual and gave me the chance to hear more stories... and maybe tell a few, as well. I heard about life plans from the children of the cousins I grew-up with- what exciting futures! An earlier generation told stories that included my Dad and I discovered new secrets about my grandmother. Stories about Pop were bittersweet- dementia has quieted a truly great story-teller.

I was reminded that it is stories- the shared life we experience that make us family. We may not all remember them the same way, if at all!, but we were in it- triumphs and tragedies- together. Maybe this is one reason we often call church, family.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Series of Fortunate Events

It's been six weeks now since my fall and Priscilla's surgery. In looking back, I guess I could focus on "a series of unfortunate events" but the reality is quite different.

  • I do wish I had a better story to tell than "I fell while chasing the dog"
  • I am grateful that my injuries were not any more serious, that my recovery is going well, and that Priscilla's recovery has gone smoothly
  • I have been cared for in extraordinary ways by my family
  • I have been blessed by a church family that has more than lived-up to its reputation for love
  • I have been encouraged by staff, deacons, and church leadership who have ministered faithfully
  • I have been able to participate in Vacation Bible School and The Wherry Youth Camp Mission Trip, missing either would have been a major "downer"
I am generally more comfortable with the blessings that come from giving. This experience has helped me understand the blessings that come with receiving.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Baptist-kind of Christians generally don't do a lot with the liturgical calendar (too "catholic" for some) so we generally don't observe Pentecost Sunday- the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Hmm... I am glad that the gift and work of the Spirit was featured in our worship last week.

Acts 2 tells the story of the coming of the Spirit and the enabling of men to speak the gospel message in languages unknown to them but known to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem. The response- "we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" In our service we enlisted multiple readers to read the passage simultaneously: Kim Sherman (English), Kristina Todd (Spanish), Ben Gribble (tagalog- the national language of the Philippines), and Helen Uba (Nigerian). Yes, it was a little confusing- but so was Pentecost! Can you imagine how those folks felt to hear the story of God's great love in their own language!

This may well be the great challenge facing the church today- telling the story of Jesus in an understandable "language." Yes, we are surrounded by ethnic diversity and people with their own native tongue. But "language" is also a generational and cultural. Will we expect people to learn "church speak" and bring a dictionary or will we pray that the Spirit might find our hearts open to learning new "languages"- new ways of communicating and relating- that show and share  great love of God?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Name That Tune

Monday afternoons are devoted to staff meeting and worship planning. Tricia joins us for calendar coordination (yes, we try) and then Chris, Jonnia, and I turn our attention to worship planning.

The process is pretty simple: we start by a brief review of the previous Sunday's service, finalize plans for the upcoming service, and lay the groundwork for two weeks out. Our goal is to allow adequate time to enlist lay worship leaders, for musicians and sound and graphics volunteers to prepare, and publish the bulletin.

The theme of a service is usually found in the sermon. Around this we choose  scripture readings, congregational music, choral music, and consider other creative elements. All of this is done with a commitment to the understanding that our worship should be God-centered, encourage participation, and use a variety of music and other elements.

This past Monday I felt like the The Three Stooges Gone to Church! We found a song we liked and were trying to find another piece with which to build. I had a song in my mind, or at least a part of a part of a song in my mind.  All I could remember was "what the Lord has done" and that maybe it was "thanksgiving-ish." Jonnia said, it's "What the Lord Has Done In Me."  I didn't recognize the title so I moved to my laptop but by the time I entered "google" Chris had found the song and had it playing on his i-phone. I said, "That's pretty but I haven't heard that one before." Jonnia said, "yes, we've done it here." "Oh, but that's not the song I had in mind," I replied... and we need to use it again, soon.

I tried to hum the melody and then Jonnia started to softly sing, "and now, let the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich, because of what the Lord has done for us."  "That's it! but how does it start?" Then came the "aha" moment... "Give thanks with a grateful heart..." We had found it, it was the song we were looking for, but it ended-up not being the right song for that part in that service.

"The canon is closed"- means there will be no more God-inspired scripture than what we have in our Bible.  But the songbook of the church is not closed. I am giving thanks for the men and women God has inspired to write words and music that lead us into worship.  I am giving thanks that this process continues today as the Spirit breathes inspiration through fresh voices.  And I am giving thanks for co-workers like Chris and Jonnia who bring their gifts to the planning of worship and for our church- where we experience worship.

By the way, find the HillSong version of "What the Lord has Done for Me" on youtube and be blessed!

Monday, April 22, 2013


I've spent a week, now, trying to figure-out how to use this blog to process my reaction to the bombing at the Boston Marathon. So far I haven't had much luck making sense out of non-sense.

As a citizen, I find myself angry,and worried that this might be the "new normal."

As a parent I grieve with those whose children have been killed or maimed. And I wonder how I would respond if it were my child whose face was plastered on CNN.

As a Christian, I am trying to forgive, but it is not easy.

So I find myself praying for peace.  In Philippians 4 we find familiar, challenging words:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding <Conrad paraphrase: doesn't make sense given the circumstances>, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Maybe together we can pray the prayer attributed to Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me so love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pastoral Privilege

My Sunday morning routine is, well, pretty routine. Getting the coffee started, checking thermostats in classrooms, distributing class rolls and setting-out bulletins- mostly making sure we're ready to go when the first people arrive. I've been doing this in some form or fashion for almost thirty years- like I said, it's a routine- in a variety of settings.

As we meet at Lockhart I also make it a habit to check-in on our sound and graphics volunteers. These folks  are in place by 8 a.m. on Sunday morning to make arrangements for the technical aspects of our worship. The Lockhart facility has saved us from the regimen of moving furniture every week (been there, done that!) but our media support team must set-up for each service. I admire and appreciate their commitment, skill, and spirit. Too often we only notice their efforts... when something goes wrong!

Many Sundays I am able to enjoy a cup of coffee as our musicians warm-up and review plans for worship leadership. During the service I am in "on" mode and can't really enjoy these aspects of worship. Overhearing the rehearsal and preparation of instrumentalists, vocalists, and other worship leaders is a valued opportunity to "sit back and soak it in."

Last Sunday I enjoyed a special treat.  As our ensemble was preparing to run through their song, Bonna Lenyszyn came in with six-month old Joseph. She didn't blink when I asked if I could hold him! We settled in to hear the music- Joseph, smiling,cooing, and drooling; me- remembering what it was like when our kids could rest on my shoulder. And then, I could "feel" a smile as Christine Braun toddled our way.  Christine, almost two, is Byron and Caroline's daughter, and comes in to "help" Grandmama Serena Verner on her Sunday mornings to work with worship graphics. Christine cuddled next to me and entertained Joseph with smiles, tickles, and giggles.

I like my Sunday morning routine: enjoying the sharing of service, the gift of music, and the smiles of little ones.  It is indeed a privilege to be called "pastor."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Christus Paradox

Sometimes sermon preparation is a lot like hunting for Easter eggs- you never know where you will find the prize! Last week's study helped me find a gift that is still "working on me." We read it as the call to worship and I referenced it in my sermon but these words by Sylvia Dunstan (1955-1993) are worth a careful encounter. Read it silently. Read it again quietly. Read it a third time worshipfully.

You, Lord, are both Lamb and Shepherd.
You, Lord, are both prince and slave.
You, peacemaker and swordbringer.
Of the way you took and gave,
You, the everlasting instant;
You whom we both scorn and crave.

Clothed in light upon the mountain,
Stripped of might upon the cross,
Shining in eternal glory,
beggar'd by a soldier's toss,
You, the everlasting instant,
You who are both gift and cost.

You, who walk each day beside us,
Sit in power at God's side.
You, who preach a way that's narrow,
have a love that reaches wide.
You, the everlasting instant;
You who are our pilgrim guide.

Worthy is our earthly Jesus!
Worthy is our cosmic Christ!
Worthy your defeat and victory.
Worthy still your peace and strife.
You, the everlasting instant;
You who are our death and life.

Alleluia- you who are our death and our life.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Waiting Game

We've all prayed  something like this: "OK God, this is what's up, this is what I need. Now, what's taking so long?" We like it when God's approval of our plans comes quickly. Waiting makes us uncomfortable... and the longer we wait the more "squirmy" we become.

We are tempted to interpret a delayed answer as a "no." Sometimes this may be the case. But oftentimes our waiting is the time that God is working.

While we are waiting, God may be at work in the life of someone else. This person may be a part of the answer... or may be encouraged by our response.

While we are waiting, God may be at work in our lives. Sometimes God has work to do in us before God can work for us.

John Waller sings it beautifully:
I am waiting, I am waiting on You, Lord.
And I am thankful, I an waiting on You, Lord.
Though it is painful, but patiently, I will wait.

I am waiting, I am waiting on You, Lord.
And I am peaceful, I am waiting on You, Lord.
Though it's not easy, but faithfully, I will wait.

I will serve You while I'm waiting.
I will worship while I'm waiting.

The psalmist says, "Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:14)

And as you are waiting, remember: God is working!

Monday, March 4, 2013

24th Anniversary Thoughts

Last Sunday we celebrated the twenty-fourth anniversary of the first public worship service of what we would come to know as "Towne View Baptist Church." As with most anniversaries we took time to remember:

  • "Hall of Fame" leaders like Monroe Swilley (pastor/baptist leader), Bob Franklin (director of missions), and Bob Eubanks (layman/baptist benefactor)
  • generous, supportive churches like First Baptist Church of Marietta and First Baptist Church of Rome
  • those who provided leadership and direction through successive moves from the motel to the shopping center to the school, to the trailers, to the building, and now to Lockhart
  • God, who above all, has been faithful through all the twists and turns of the journey
In my sermon I sought to make the case that along the way:
  • we have been a mission church- the result of another's mission
  • we have been a mission-minded church- giving our money so that others could be missionaries
  • we have been a mission-supporting church- encouraging and sending members to "do" missions as an expression of their Christian faith
  • we now face the challenge of being a "missional church-" creating an environment where members see themselves as missionaries in their communities of work and leisure and where as a church we see all that we do as a part of God's mission for us.
Anniversaries are a time to look back (where have we been?) with gratitude and look forward (where do we go from here?) with hope.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Moving Experience

"Where did this come from?"
"Oh, that's where that was!"
"Gosh, the kids were young then."
"I hadn't thought about them for a while."
"Why did we keep that?"
"Where are we going to put this?"
"This room looks so much bigger now!"
"Do you remember when..."

These are some of the thoughts I've heard expressed from others- and myself- over the course of our moving the last week or so. It is truly amazing what you can find when you move.  I have a friend who says everyone should move every ten years.  As I settle into my fifth office while pastor at Towne View I'm not so sure!

As book cases were removed, cabinets come down, and carpets pulled-up you can see what the church "was made of." A concrete floor, 2x4 studs, drywall, and steel reveal construction materials- but don't really show "what the church was made of."

It was in the energy of members young and old, the smiles over quick lunch, the laughter generated by well-told stories, the sweat of heavy-lifting, the wistful smiles of memories, the expressions or gratitude for God's faithfulness, the hope-filled glances to the future... this is what our church is "made of."

Monday, January 28, 2013

Parts of the Body

Committees sometimes take a bad rap in church life. You've probably heard the jokes... "a camel is a horse designed by a committee" or "God so loved the world that he didn't send a committee." Yet, committees are an essential component in the way we "do" church.

1Corinthians 12 begins with Paul discussing spiritual gifts and says "All these (gifts) are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them each one, just as he determines (v. 11). " Later, in a discussion of the church as a body the apostle says, "God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted the to be (v. 18) and "you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it (v. 27)." WOW! God has shaped us into the body of Christ, given each of us a role in the body, and has equipped each of us with the gift(s) necessary for the proper functioning of the body "for the common good (v. 7)."

As we have organized our church for ministry we have designated a Nominating Committee with the responsibility to identify members and gifts necessary for our officers and committees to effectively guide our ministries. Without quotas, the Nominating Committee strives to involve a broad variety of members in positions of leadership and service- younger and older, male and female, long-time members (as long as it gets in a church of our relative "youth") and newcomers, as well as the ethnic diversity of our little part of the kingdom. The composition of our Nominating Committee itself is representative.  Where did these folks come from? How did they get here?

John Sherman chairs the Nominating Committee this year.  He and his family became involved with Towne View at the invitation of Doug Butler, a friend from college days at SPSU.

Laurita Benjamin retired to Kennesaw from upstate New York to be closer to family (especially grandchildren).

Rick Hedger and his late wife came to Towne View at the invitation of their neighbors, Tom and Lorraine Roote.

Tanya Hall, a tried and true southern girl came to a nearby neighborhood in Kennesaw due to a job transfer.

Lou Shewmake came to our fellowship as a single Mom looking for a place where her young sons could get connected... she met Denny and the rest,as they say, is history.

Patsy Carrier and John and her mother, Mrs. Allen, came with a group of friends looking for a church where their age and experiences would be welcomed.

I'll encourage you to pray for these folks as they seek to be faithful to the task our church has sent their way. And pray for yourself- that you will be open to God's invitation to use your gifts in service "for the common good." And pray for those neighbors, co-workers, long-time friends, and new acquaintances who are looking for help and hope and a place to belong.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Rainy Days and Mondays

"Rainy days and Mondays always get me down" crooned The Carpenter's in their classic song of the 70's.  Yes, I will confess to most likely being the only guy in my high school with a collection of Carpenter's 8-tracks in my crushed-velvet lined storage case!

It's raining and it's Monday... and yes, it's hard not to feel "down."  In north Georgia it sometimes seems as if the sun itself has gone south for the winter... rain only makes it worse. After a weekend change of pace Monday seems full of unfinished business. Uggh!

Some friends from my college days sang another song about days (weeks... months?) like today- it went "I get growing pains when it rains." Rick and David's song was a reminder that God is at work... even in the rainy days.  Yes, there may be some carryover, but Monday is also a reminder of a new week full of new opportunities.  And the rain, though inconvenient today, offers the promise of a bright spring and refreshing water for the summer beyond.

"Rainy Days and Mondays" or "Growing Pains," which will I sing today?