Pastor's Pen 2010 & 2009

December 2010

The Advent Seasons is always a meaningful time in the life of the church.  The sights, the smells, the tastes, the emotions are all heightened as we journey through this time of anticipation.  Everything around us calls out with God's yearning to be with us.  Yet we usually find ourselves so busy at this time of the year that we seem to be unaware to the voice of God calling to us.   Perhaps we simply need to do what scriptures teach us—'Be still and know.'

But it is hard to be still isn't it.  Stillness requires practice and discipline, patience and persistence.  As you journey through this Advent Season, be still, practice stillness, and in that stillness hear God calling to you, reminding you that God is with you always.

Then we can discover that the journey of Advent brings us the fulfillment of God's promise—Jesus Christ, who loves us and gives his life for us.  In that knowledge there truly is hope, peace, joy, and love this Advent.

I look forward to celebrating Advent with you this year.

In Christ,
Tommy

November 2010

'What a sweet spirit we have in the Lexington Avenue Baptist Church family!'  That thought kept coming across my mind last night as we shared in another of our home fellowship gatherings for our Fearless Generosity Emphasis.  It was evident, and has been evident at all the gatherings, that we really do love our church family and that we really want to be part of what God is doing through his church.

Specifically right now, we are talking and praying about how we each can be part of what God is doing through our giving to the ministries and activities of the church, which is one of the ways through which God accomplishes his work.  The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for everything.  Now is the time to intentionally and deliberately pray about our giving to Lexington Avenue Baptist Church.  These are the questions I have been asking myself these days:  'Am I doing the best I can to be part of the work God is doing at Lexington Avenue Baptist Church?'  'Does my giving reflect that I am doing and giving my best for God?'  Those can be difficult and troubling questions to ask.  But as we ask them and as we pray to God about them, God will give us answers, God will guide us in what we need to do, and God will give us peace as we faithfully respond.

I know that you join with me in asking those questions and listening to how God is leading you.  Thanks for being part of this wonderful community of faith!  I look forward to seeing you this Sunday.

In Christ,

Tommy



October, 2010

October is an exciting month in the life of LABC.  We launch our annual budget emphasis.  This year we are calling our emphasis, Fearless Generosity.  We expect our Fearless Generosity emphasis to have a major impact on our church not only in giving, but also in the way in which we approach our lives as Christians. I want to encourage you to be part of it.  Here's what you can do:
 
•  Read the book, The Giving Myths, and participate in a Sunday School class.  A copy of the book is available to each family in the church.  If you don't have yours, you can pick it up on Sunday morning.
•  Attend the Generosity workshop led by Steve McSwain of the Foundation for Excellence in Giving, on Sunday Oct. 17th. 
•  Attend a home fellowship and prayer gathering. 
• Begin now to pray about your financial commitment to the ministries of your church.

Steve McSwain's book, The Giving Myths: Giving Then Getting the Life You've Always Wanted, is a transformative book that is so much more than a book about fundraising. The Giving Myths is about a generous and joyful lifestyle that comes from our love for God.

Two important Sundays lay ahead of our generosity emphasis. October 3 is World Communion Sunday. We will, of course, observe the Lord's Supper and remember that we are part of a worldwide fellowship of Christians. October 10 is World Hunger Sunday. During worship we will receive our rice bowl banks. All funds go directly to relieve hunger all around the world.  Also on this Sunday, Dr. Greg Earwood, president of the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky will be preaching.

October is an exciting month for us.  Let's join together as kingdom builders with God.  I look forward to seeing you this week in worship!
 
In Christ,
Tommy



September, 2010

I like the story in the gospels where Jesus ascends a mountain with Peter, James and John and is transfigured before their eyes. They see Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah. It is a spiritual moment. And it is tempting to stay in that place where it seems you could almost reach out and touch the very presence of God.

But in that story, Jesus and his disciples do not stay there. Jesus comes down from the mountain and continue his work of being the presence of God among people.

There's a lesson there for us—it's important to be away to spend time with God, to hear his encouragement and affirmation. We must also hear God saying, 'Go and share with others in this journey of life.' That's the life Jesus modeled for us and the life Jesus now calls us to live.

So today, spend time with God then go and share with others.

In Christ

,
Tommy


June, 2010

Vacation Bible School 2010 was wonderful!! Thanks to all who helped to make it a meaningful experience for the children and their families. Everyone had a great time.

I was excited to see many new faces and new families in our VBS. That's why VBS is such a good outreach tool for the church. It's our way to share God's love with one another and with our community.

That's really what we are all about as a church. Sharing God's love. In all that we do, in all that we say, let us have as our motivation the desire to share God's love. John 3:16 records that the reason God sent Jesus was because of his love for you and for me. Let's make sharing God's love a priority for us here at LABC.

How can we share God's love? Let me share a few thoughts.

*Invite your friend to Sunday School and worship.
*Tell someone the difference that Jesus Christ has made in your life.
*Get to know your neighbors and help them out when they are in need.
*Smile at the person sitting next to you this Sunday morning.
*Pray for your church.
*Love your family.
*Give faithfully and generously to the work of the church.
*Teach Sunday School.l
*Work with the youth, children, or senior adults.
*Love God with all your heart.

And that's just the beginning. Let's make the commitment and be the church that shares God's love!

With great expectations,
Tommy


April, 2010

Robert Greenleaf wrote, 'Everyone, at some time and in some areas, is a follower.' That's an important truth for us to understand, especially as Christians. It reminds us of the reality that every day Jesus calls us to come and to follow him.

Three hundred years ago in a monastery in France, Brother Lawrence discovered the secret to joyful living in his relationship with Christ. As a result he found great happiness and fulfillment in even the most menial and mundane of his daily tasks. Part of that joy was discovered in his complete reliance upon God. He prayed once, 'Lord I cannot do this unless you enable me.'

Even today the words of Brother Lawrence have meaning for us as Christians. It is not a closely held secret, nor is it knowledge beyond our grasp. The Bible teaches us that in all things we are to rely upon God. Yet, so often, we set off to accomplish things on our own without pausing to seek God's direction and his leadership.

We can accomplish much more with a dependence upon the living Lord. And what's more, like Brother Lawrence, we can discover a happiness and joy in the living of our lives. I'm glad we are on this journey together as we learn to rely more and more on the living Lord.

In Christ,
Tommy



March, 2010

Listening to the New Testament through our You've Got the Time Emphasis is proving to be a meaningful part of our individual and corporate experience of Lent. On a personal level we get to hear the story of God's love for each of us as we move toward Easter Sunday. Hearing the Word, instead of reading it, open's our ears, and our hearts, to elements of God's story that we perhaps overlook. Perhaps you have discovered, as have I through this experience, that each day God uses the scripture to speak to me a personal word. What a tremendous way to encounter God each day in our lives!!

On a corporate level I find it quite meaningful that our church family is listening to the same text. It is my prayer that as we listen we will hear together the word that God has for Lexington Avenue Baptist Church. I would love to hear about what you hear God saying to you and to our church. Drop me a note, e-mail me, or call me and let me know how listening to Scripture during Lent has touched your life.

Thanks for all you do to make LABC a very special place to worship and serve God.

In Christ,
Tommy



February, 2010

The season of Lent begins on February 17th, Ash Wednesday. Lent is a time in which we prepare our hearts for and open our lives to the significance of God's gift, Jesus Christ. We can prepare in a number of waysmaking renewed commitments, giving up something that is important to us for the forty days of Lent, and experiencing the presence of God in and through our lives during worship and during each day.

Another way to more fully enrich your experience of Lent this year is through listening to the New Testament. Elsewhere in this newsletter you'll find information about You've Got the Time. It tells you all you need to know to participate in listening to the whole New Testament during the forty days of Lent.

The Bible is God's Living Word for us. It speaks to us in every situation of our lives. It offers hope and encouragement by specifically pointing us to the life, ministry and abiding presence of our Savior. We do have the time and we can make the time for the Bible to be part of our daily lives.

I'm looking forward to participating in You've Got the Time and I'm glad we are doing this together as a church. Let me invite you to be part of this ministry. I am confident it will enrich your Lenten experience and more deeply connect your life to Jesus.

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday in Worship.
Tommy


January 7, 2010

You'll notice a change in how we do our newsletter in the coming year. We are going to a monthly printed newsletter. This should help save some money and we hope time. We are currently without our publications secretary and finding time to get everything done is difficult at times. We are still trying to have an online newsletter of some format each week.

We will also be changing our bulletin formatjust the bulletin, not the form of worship. This should allow us to include more news and announcements in a timely manner. Be patient with us as we make these adjustments. I think in the end we will all like the new way we are communicating as a church.

2010 is filled with some wonderful opportunities. You'll hear about some of those soon. But one in particular is an opportunity for us to listen to the whole New Testament on CD or in MP3 format. Any time we engage God's Word our lives are impacted in a positive way. The program is called You've Got the Time. We will designate the 40 days of Lent as our opportunity to participate in this exciting ministry opportunity. We'll have more information about it in the days ahead. If you're curious and would like to know more now then go to the website, www.thefellowshipinfo.ygtt.

Let's make a commitment now to make this year a year in which our relationship with Christ is renewed and strengthened.

In Christ,
Tommy



December 17, 2009


Christmas is a time filled with hope, peace, joy, and love. The Advent season and the Advent wreath remind us of those qualities that bring light and life to this season. Whether we are children or adults, we long to have a Christmas filled with hope, peace, joy and love. Each of us can, and need to, discover that the true source of hope, peace, joy, and love is God. Christmas is a time when we celebrate all that has taken place and look forward to all that is to come. It is a time to share love with family and friends. It is a time to remember that Jesus came to make a way for you and for me. In that truth truly there is hope, peace, joy, and love.

Jennifer, David, Kate, and I celebrate our eleventh Christmas with you at LABC. We wish you all a very blessed and joy-filled Christmas. May we discover together the hope, peace, joy, and love that Jesus brings to our lives!

Merry Christmas!!

Tommy


Pastor's Pen

Sunday, November 1, was a special day for me and my family. It was made special by your generosity and your kindness in celebrating with us my 10th anniversary as pastor here at LABC. I appreciate each of you so very much and your willingness to help make Sunday a significant day in my life.

It was quite a surprise to see friends and family sharing in the service of worship. Each of them has had an influence upon my spiritual journey and has helped to shape, in various ways, the person and the minister I am today. Let me say a big thank you for the very generous love offering you presented us and the pictures that will help us to remember this special day for years to come.

I have always felt loved by you, our church family. You have helped to nurture and encourage us throughout these 10 years. You have been patient, understanding, and flexible. And you have expressed a real hunger to know what God is calling us to do.

Let me also say thanks to David Williams and the Personnel Committee for their thoughtfulness in helping to plan this day.

LABC is a great place to serve and I'm grateful to God that we are on the journey together seeking to join God in the work God is doing.

With love and thanksgiving,

Tommy

Today, October 12th, marks the 27th anniversary of my brother's death. He was 21 when he died as the result of a car accident. I was 17. That event left me and my family changed in ways we could not immediately see. We continued to live life fully and in time we rediscovered the joy that life brings. David's life, though short in years, was lived fully and touched the lives of others.

There are those events in life that serve as road markers in this journey. They are not what define us as individuals. Our lives are more the culmination of such markers. Rather, those road markers serve as reference points that help us to better understand who we have become and, perhaps, why we have become who we are. At times, those road markers become the points at which we choose one path over another. At other times those same markers become the points at which a certain path is thrust upon us.

David's death was all that for me. As I look back over the years I can see the ways in which David's death and life, and what I learned from that experience, have influenced my life.

I have learned that though we lose loved ones in death, there is much life yet to be lived, and live it we must. I have found great joy and blessings in the continuing journey of life—a wonderful wife, two beautiful children, moments filled with laughter and tears. All of this is a reminder that life is a gift.

There are many road markers in my life's journey. Each one has had its own unique impact on me. But on this day I pause to remember David's life and the times we shared together. For that remembrance, I give God thanks.

Tommy



Recently one of the weekly devotional and reflectional e-mails I receive addressed the challenge of giving in troubled economic times. The church is not immune from difficult economic times. While we are able to meet our financial obligations, our finance committee has had to find ways to reduce spending. Our staff, committees and ministry teams have done an excellent job of prioritizing spending and keeping spending to a minimum. But such reductions mean that many of our church ministries are cut back; maintenance issues are addressed only as needed; and other opportunities and challenges are put on hold. We are fortunate to be the recipient of a large estate gift a few years ago that allows us to put a new roof on the sanctuary and educational buildings. The regular giving of each of us to the ministry and the life of the church enables us to carry out the task God has given us.

If you're not currently giving to the church, let me ask you to do so. Our financial generosity is an outgrowth of our Christian faith. If you are giving, let me challenge you to increase your giving, even by a small amount. It really does make a difference in the ministries we carry out at LABC. I am reminded that we each have a responsibility to give with glad and generous hearts to the Lord who has given us life.

John Wesley has been attributed with this quote:

"Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
At all times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can."

Albert Pine reminds us:

"What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal."

Perhaps our approach to giving should embody the concept of generosity. When Christians take the lead in modeling generosity even in difficult economic times, we model the hope of God given to us through Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul spoke of the great generosity of the Macedonian Christians--'Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will.' (1 Corinthians 8:2-3, NLT)

Let the generosity of God flow through your life. Thanks for helping LABC share God's love through your generosity.

In Christ,
Tommy