When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12
JULY - SEPTEMBER 2017
Message From The EDITOR
CHURCH CONNECTION Volume 7 No. 3
ummer time sweet summer time! I always loved summer time growing up. Fresh tomatoes from the garden, fresh peaches, homemade ice cream, the smell of freshly cut grass, and the fact that a day had a lot more daylight than darkness this time of year. It would get daylight early and stay light until late. The light is good. We used to play hide and go seek (think the new generation of kids call it man hunt), and when it was light outside, it was much easier to see where and who people really were. Playing at night made it difficult to see. People could blend into the darkness much easier. It was hard to tell exactly who or where someone was.
The Bible talks a lot about light, and that we should be a light in the world to those who see us. In the book of Luke in chapter 11 verse 33 it says, “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.” The world we live in today is much different than the world I grew up in. It is ever changing, and this will continue to be. I don’t think many will argue that as a culture it would appear that the darkness is winning out over the light. That is why it is more important now than ever that God’s people that profess to know him, let the light be seen through them. This means that we must not blend into the darkness or the crowd, but rather we should stand out and look different with the things we say and the words we say and the way we act in every situation. We must be disciples by not going along with culture and the crowd, but letting others know who we follow. This is allowing the light to be seen rather than putting it under a bowl. When people see you or think of you, do they see someone that stands out like a light for Christ, or do they see someone that blends into the culture of darkness? Do people have to look real hard to see Christ living in you because of the amount of darkness in your life, or is it easy to find him in you like playing hide and go seek in the light? If you would like to work on being a shining light for God in this ever darkening world, a good first step is to attend one of our local Christian churches where you will meet others striving for the same thing. None perfect, just striving! Pick a local church that looks like it would fit your style, and get involved today as we continue to keep the light burning strong in Middle Georgia. Cover Photo: Epworth By The Sea in St. Simons Island
Photographer: Chuck Thompson
For more information, please contact Chuck Thompson firstname.lastname@example.org • www.localchurchconnection.com
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CCN Distributing, Inc. P.O. Box 99 • Bolingbroke, Georgia 31004 Office: (478) 992-5757 • Fax: (478) 992-9092 • Mobile: (478) 954-0249 Email: email@example.com www.callawayblue.com
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FCA In The Family By April Cassell
ohnny Mitchell grew up in Macon, GA. He played football, basketball and baseball during his high school career then went on to play football at VMI. Lisa Lanier grew up in Montezuma, GA. She was a runner and a cheerleader. They met on a blind date in 1992 and married in 1993. The Mitchell family attends church at Ingleside Baptist Church in Macon. The Mitchells have three children; John, who is 21 and is an upcoming junior at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, GA; James, an upcoming sophomore at Covenant College; and Mary Elaine, an upcoming sophomore at Stratford Academy. All three have grown up with a Christian influence in their home and in their lives, and all three have been multi-sport athletes during their middle and high school careers. John is currently playing baseball at Covenant College while brother James plays basketball. Mary Elaine is on the basketball, soccer, softball and track teams at Stratford. Another common thread for this family besides athletics is their involvement in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the Middle GA Area. Johnny began a middle school FCA huddle at Stratford many years ago. John and James both started attending their FCA huddle when they were in the 6th grade. Both of them also attended FCA in high school. James attended FCA Leadership camp during the summer before his junior year and came back to lead FCA at Stratford his junior and senior years of high school. He and Ramsie Whitworth led the middle and high school huddles. Mary Elaine also attended leadership camp and is currently leading the middle and high school huddles at her school along with several other students who are on the leadership team. The Mitchells all agree that FCA has taught them great leadership skills that can be used in their school environment. They also believe that through the influence of sports, a great platform for sharing Christ’s love can be developed. Sports has been a part of their lives since they can remember first having a ball in their hands, and through their participation in sports they have learned patience, perseverance, and the importance of hard work. Mary Elaine feels that her display of a Christ-like attitude and the encouragement she gave her teammates when she practiced and played helped them respect her more as a young athlete when she started playing on the varsity level. James and John feel that they want to be an example for Christ by serving their teammates/coaches and by giving God the glory when they use the abilities and talents God has blessed them with. John knows that having the right attitude is important in all areas of life, especially in the arena of competition. As he has matured, he knows that “honoring God is the most important thing when I play, rather than winning or losing.” These young athletes are quick to point out that they know even though they were blessed with good genes, their athletic ability comes from God. Their parents have been a major influence in all of their lives. Mary Elaine said her dad was her “first coach and he pushed her to become a better player, but at the same time he wanted to make sure she enjoyed the game.” James said his (continued on next page)
parents’ influence and his older brother’s influence exemplified and encouraged toughness, but most importantly, they stressed the importance of playing the game the right way. John wore his father’s jersey Number (#12) all through high school and even used the football towel his dad had when he played football. This family continues to be a part of FCA in the Middle Georgia area. Johnny continues to impact FCA through his involvement on the FCA board. Johnny and Lisa love the way FCA encourages and equips coaches and athletes to share their love for Jesus. James is returning to FCA Leadership Camp this year as a huddle leader which means he will be spreading his influence to young men who are attending camp just as he was a few years ago. What a blessing he will be! James and John plan to start an FCA huddle at Covenant College when school starts back in the fall. Mary Elaine is attending FCA Leadership Camp at St. Simon’s during the week of June 26th-30th and will lead her huddles at Stratford again for the 2017-2018 school year. Their hope is that they can continue to build relationships through a love for sports and a love for Jesus in a way to influence as many people as they can through the sharing of the gospel and through fellowship with teammates in hopes to impact them for eternity!. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is touching millions of lives… one heart at a time. Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ. FCA focuses on serving local communities by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ.
The FCA Vision
To see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.
The FCA Mission
To present to coaches and athletes, and all whom they influence, the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving Him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the church.
MIKADO BASKETBALL CAMP July 9-14 1st-6th grade Nightly basketball camp with championship high school coaches (Cost $60) 6751 Houston Road • Macon, GA • 478.781.2324 firstname.lastname@example.org • mikadobaptist.org Awana for 2 Years-4th grade • The Bridge for 5th-6th grade Elevate youth ministries for 7th-12th grade College/Career discipleship and small groups 15+ Sunday school classes, called Life Groups. Based on a person's age, these classes are designed to connect a person with others in their life stage. Service Times Sundays - Life Groups: 9:00 AM, Worship: 10:30 AM & 6:00 PM Wednesdays - Family Meal: 5:15-6:15 PM; Discipleship, children, youth: 6:45 PM; Bible Study: 7:00 PM. Upcoming Event: First Responders Sunday - March 19 (A day where we recognize first responders in our community. Everyone is invited to participate, especially those in law enforcement, EMT, etc.)
Free magic show, 7 PM each night with Magician David Corn mikadobaptist.org/camp
UPWARD SOCCER Ages 4-14 4 leagues on graduated field size Early registration ends July 18 Games run August 5-September 30
ACADEMY OF MUSIC Quality individual music instruction in piano and violin mikadobaptist.org/aom
When Will Adoption Overtake Abortion? Published On May 26, 2017 • By Stephen Story, Executive Director
s The Chronicle recently reported, Augusta once again is home to two abortion providers.
Both are nestled in respectable, suburban office parks. Both give every outward appearance of being a place where pregnant couples can pay a professional to make their problems go away. Both are places we as a community would rather not talk about. The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute studied the motivations of women who chose abortion. The reasons most frequently cited were that having a child would interfere with a woman’s education, work or ability to care for dependents (74 percent) and the inability to afford raising a child (73 percent). These motivations are real and understandable. But try as we may, there’s one central issue we can’t avoid: Abortion is violence that ends the life of real people. They might be tiny, helpless and hidden from view, but they are people, just like us. This is why we’d rather not talk about those two clinics in Augusta, because we know what really happens there. Adoption provides a better way.
Adoption Provides A Better Way.
Adoption makes the well-being of the child central, rather than forcing it aside. Adoption builds families, rather than destroying them. Adoption protects life, rather than ending it. Adoption is a real and viable alternative to abortion. Postmodern dogma notwithstanding, most people know intuitively that one path is superior to the other. The objections are predictable, ill-informed and easily answered. Adoption is too expensive! It’s actually free for a woman to place her child for adoption. Tax credits and grants abound to assist adoptive families with their fees. What about kids in foster care! That’s a real problem, but a separate issue. We’re talking about infants voluntarily placed for adoption, not those removed from their families by the state. No one will adopt these children if we let them be born!
Birthmothers & staff at Covenant Care’s annual Birthmother Retreat
The truth is, for years infant adoption agencies have been unable to serve the scores of families willing to adopt. Our agency has had the joy of watching families gladly adopt children who were conceived in rape, survived abortion, were born addicted, or are suffering severe disabilities. (continued on next page)
Nevertheless, abortion vastly outnumbers adoption by any reckoning. In 2014 there were 30,013 abortions compared to 381 infant adoptions in Georgia. This means that for every one couple voluntarily placing their newborn child for adoption, there are 82 opting for abortion. The reasons for the imbalance are many, but adoption never will overtake abortion unless we experience a radical cultural shift in how we think and talk about those who voluntarily choose adoption. A recent study by the University of Texas at Arlington found that many birth mothers experience isolation, stigmatization and a lack of social and emotional support, both during pregnancy and after adoption. We see this daily: Women are pressured and even coerced toward abortion, and shunned or outright mocked for choosing adoption. We recently served a woman who was kicked out of her family’s house for choosing adoption over abortion! Adoption isn’t easy. If we want to see its numbers grow, we must celebrate and support those who choose this option. While abortion is a one-time decision often made early in pregnancy, adoption is a choice that must be pursued day after day during months of pregnancy, through labor and delivery, while choosing an adoptive family and signing legal paperwork, and during the state-mandated 10-day revocation period.
“...celebrate and support those who choose this option.”
Yet in most cases that months-long path is lined with people who encourage anything other than adoption: friends who insist, “You can’t give away your own flesh and blood. Just have an abortion”; co-workers who second-guess, “Don’t you love your baby?”; well-meaning hospital staff who assume something sinister must be going on to cause a pregnant woman to make such a painful decision. One of our clients, Grace, explains her decision simply: “Adoption is something that you do out of love because you want something better.” She is sometimes frustrated that those around her whisper about adoption and are afraid to talk openly about the decision she made. Another birth mom, Katie, pushes back against the notion that birthmothers “give up” their babies because they don’t love them. “I love my baby so much,” Katie says. “I didn’t give her up; I let her go.” What if we take their perspective at face value? What if there really are women and men who love their children enough to give them life, even amid difficult circumstances? What if these couples sacrificially surrender their rights as parents for the good of their child? How should we treat those who have made this decision? My wife and I are forever indebted to the birth parents of our three children. They are people to be respected and honored, as is every person God has created – even those who are hidden from our sight. This article was originally published as a guest column in The Augusta Chronicle.
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His School of Lifelong Learning By David Duncan
s summer winds down there is the sound of torturous whines wafting through the cooler breezes of beckoning fall. It is the dreaded disgust of school children everywhere who hate to return to the hallowed halls of higher learning and the putrid punishment of homework! :) I can’t help but snicker inside when I see mothers in the stores gathering the school supplies, toting the allotted lists of every school their child attends and making ready for peaceful solitude when the last kid gets on the big yellow ‘train to mama’s paradise’ and disappear into the horizon! Is it just me or are the mothers humming and grinning like a possum anticipating that very day? :) True story: last year I wanted to just take a nice trip down Memory Lane since our nest is empty of youngin’s and perhaps watch a tearful, doting mother kiss her adorable children ‘goodbye’ and send them off confidently to a new school year. <deep sigh> I rode through a well-to-do neighborhood and did not catch a Hallmark moment at all! Instead, all I spied was a gaggle of kids being thrown out of the house, stumbling half-dressed and rudely uncoffured toward the bus. Before the wheels on the bus went round and round, I first saw the boot of a sergeant mom who had ‘enough’ and the siren and lights on top of her head were blaring! “…and don’t call me if you get sick! Dad is in charge of sick duty!!!!!” LOL.
“... God himself is our Teacher...”
Teachers, on the other hand, have been seen hugging corners, paralyzed in a pretzel-like fetal position. One such PSTD victim, PRIOR Stress Traumatic Disorder, was babbling haphazardly about crafts, cupcakes, and #2 pencils that supposedly smell like #2. :) KIDS!!! It’s difficult to maneuver yourself around maintaining World Peace in your classroom and juggling academia and your sanity at the same time. But, God bless them, for all they do! My favorite story is when our baby daughter, Halley, (now age 25) was in elementary school and it was a Friday and that special celebration of “Show and Tell” day!!!! Such a big deal that my parents came from SC because she wanted ‘Mama Grace’ to assist her in the presentation. <what could this possibly mean???> All she asked to carry with her that morning was her favorite baby doll so we all piled in the car to accompany the journey of Halley and my mother to school. Miss Chalkdust, or whatever her name was, called the children up one by one. So organized and stately in her demeanor. Halley was visibly cool and calm, ready to share her most excellent baby doll and her beloved grandmother with the Springdale audience. She got up and asked mom to come and stand beside her. Mother looked so radiant and proud as she looked down at little blonde-curled, blue eyed Halley-bug. Halley began to tell her story succinctly: “This is my grandmother from SC and she had a lot of babies. She lives on a farm with lots of cows. I have SO much homework that she is going to help me nurse this baby.” With that, she turned and shoved the baby doll upwards toward Mama Grace and quickly sat down. Mom was horrified and in shock. So was Miss Chalkdust. I am sure that our mouths flew open and everyone just stared at mom, awaiting the feeding of the baby. Miss Chalkdust gathered her thoughts and abruptly ended the “Show and Tell” fiasco. LOL. Poor mother was dazed for about 2 weeks but eventually started breathing again! :) God has all of us in His School of Lifelong Learning. We are perpetual students and are challenged to study to show ourselves approved unto God! As we enter this opportunity of stretching and becoming, may we remind ourselves that God Himself is our Teacher and we either pass His test or will be required to take the test again. Let’s diligently apply our hearts unto wisdom and seek to grasp all that we can spiritually and grow for the glory of God. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths .” Proverbs 3:5-6 In His Love, David Duncan Contact me on Facebook or email@example.com.
God Is For Me By Kelly Philbrick
e shall not need to fight in this battle: Set yourselves, stand still, And see the salvation of the Lord. II Chron. 20:17
O our God... we have NO MIGHT against this great company that cometh against us, neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee. II Chron. 20:12 God delights to hear the helpless cry of His children. This is the point of our complete dependence upon Him, where He can freely work unhindered by our human hands, and where He can receive the most glory. "Be not afraid, nor dismayed for the battle is not yours, BUT GOD'S." Deliverance came from the Lord when the Israelites began to sing and praise His name. What is the secret here? The Israelites were not looking to their own resources for victory, but relying completely upon the Lord for salvation! Even now, the battle is still not ours, but the Lord's. Are there things in your life that you think you will never be able to overcome?
... the battle is still not ours, but the Lords.
For me, I never thought I would be able to overcome old dysfunctional thought patterns that have wreaked havoc in my life. On the surface, things looked pretty good; however, upon closer observation, I was dying inside. I tried to control the people around me and my circumstances in order to fight the chaos inside my aching heart. Fear gripped me if there was no order, so I would withdraw and shut down in order to survive. This year the Lord used others to show me these broken areas of my life. I have had to grapple with the knowledge that I was not the best wife, mother, Christian, and friend. This knowledge at times was almost too much to bear. I am, however, eternally grateful to those who were willing to risk their relationship with me to confront me about my issues. And if that was not painful enough, God revealed even more of my flaws, which are actually sins according to His word. I found out I cared too much about my reputation and what people thought of me and that I feared man more than God. I strove to make myself look good in people's eyes. Pride lurked in every sphere of my life. But I promise you, there is hope to overcome every dysfunction, addiction, pride, and sin. It comes from knowing that God is for you and that He will fight your battles just as He did for the Israelites. I cannot articulate how the Lord worked deep changes in my life. My tendency is to offer a formula for how He did it, but all I know is that He is the one who orchestrated everything in His way and in His timing. My responsibility was to maintain a willing heart for Him to change. I and the people I love have suffered through this process, but even Jesus had to learn obedience through suffering. What makes us think that we are immune to difficulties? He becomes our everything when we have nothing left. What a great place to be! Lord, help us fix our eyes upon You and wait for Your deliverance. You never fail and are always faithful. I am so glad to serve you, Father. *Thank you to Martha Buckingham for permission to use her words within this piece.
Sober And Vigilant By TREY DICKERSON
ne thing is for sure, church: we are living right in the middle of a spiritual war. Even the things that we see on mainstream media today such as the disunity in our nation over politics, are all spiritually influenced. Yes, our political climate, the terrorism, the wars, etc., are all motivated by the kingdom of darkness. Many of us have mentally assented to this truth, but it is not real in our hearts. The reason I say this is because very few of us actually live our daily lives aware of the enemy that surrounds us in the spiritual realm. We live oblivious to his devices that he uses against us. This is why the Apostle Peter exhorted us in 1 Peter 5:8 - “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” Now most people, when quoting this verse, remember the “the devil walks about like a roaring lion” part, but what I have found, is that most of the church misses the part that tells us what we are to do about this fact that the devil is on the prowl seeking to devour us. So, what are we to do about this? What is our defense against the fact we have an enemy who is looking to devour us? Well, notice that Peter begins this verse by giving us two pieces of instruction: He tells us to be sober and vigilant. The first words Peter used, to “be sober,” literally mean “to think straight.” Being sober describes having a clear head and is basically the opposite of what it is like to be under the influence of alcohol. So, the gist of this word “sober” is how important it is for us to be mentally self-controlled.
“... He is greater than our enemy that is in the world!”
You see, it is extremely important to be in control of our mind and to realize how dangerous it is for us to entertain certain thoughts. If we do not guard our heart with all diligence by taking those ungodly thoughts captive, then we are giving Satan place in our lives because this is where he primarily fights us, in our mind. Then Peter encourages us to “be vigilant.” This word literally means “to be awake, watchful, and standing guard.” This word was used continuously by Jesus in a positive manner when exhorting us to “watch” for His return. The Lord also used it in the same light as 1 Peter 5:8 when He said, “Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation…” (Matthew 26:41). You see, as good soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the midst of this spiritual battle, we need to be alert and watchful. This is not a game. We are in a war here and, as long as we are living in this fallen world, we are on the enemy’s turf. Just think about it: If you were in a natural war and were walking through the enemy’s territory, don’t you reckon you would be a little sober and alert? Of course, you would! You would be extremely clear headed and watchful because you understand that if you are not watchful and completely alert you could lose your life real quick. Likewise, as being in the enemy’s camp, we are his targets for destruction. But the good news is that although we live in this world, we are not of this world! We have the Greater One The Holy Spirit - on the inside of us, and He is greater than our enemy that is in the world! He will guide us to avoid those temptations that are thrown our way, and He will also help us by putting the appropriate ammunition in our hands (i.e. the Word of God) when we need it! Glory to God! (continued on next page)
So what Peter is saying here is that we need to be in control of our thought life and we need to be fully alert because our enemy is constantly targeting us, waiting for an open shot. And if we just float through life mentally unprepared, the enemy will rather easily pick us apart. Let’s not be those who are unprepared for this spiritual war we are in, saints! Let’s learn to think like God thinks. Let’s learn to be aware of our spiritual surroundings. For where the mind goes, the man will follow. Amen. And that is why I highly encourage you to get a hold of this new series that I just released entitled “Guarding Your Garden.” It is an audio series that I am offering to you for a gift of any amount (suggested donation for this 9 CD series is $40). We strive in our ministry to be a blessing and to get the good news out! In this 9 CD series, you will learn: 1. More on just how important our heart truly is. 2. Practical ways in which we can guard our hearts. 3. The characteristics and remedies for all four different conditions of hearts from Jesus’ Parable of the Sower, including: a) How to not be conformed to the world and how to break up the fallowed grounds of our hearts. b) How a Christian can have a hardened heart and what the remedy is. c) How to deal with the thorns that attempt to choke the production of God’s Word. d) What are the three ingredients of the good ground that will produce fruit. For more articles like this from Living Logos Ministries, write us at P.O. Box 28283, Macon, GA 31221 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to visit our website at www.treydickerson.com for more materials as well. Trey also pastors High Point Church located on 2963 Hollis Rd here in Macon. Please contact him for more info and service times.
ST. JOHN CME CHURCH 159 College Street, Gordon, GA. 31031
Pastor: William Horne Jr. Worship Service @ 11AM on 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays Praise and Worship Service @ 8 AM on 1St Sunday's Sunday School@ 9:30 AM on 2nd, 3rd 4th and 5th Sunday's. Sunday School immediately following Praise and worship Service on 1st Sundays Bible Study @ 6:30 PM each Wednesday and Senior Bible Study @12 noon on 2nd and 4th Tuesdays
Church Phone: (478) 628-5276 20
Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually = RESULTS Brighter-Day Fitness is more than just a gym, it's a ministry. We have been established since 2009 until present time here in Macon and all of the surrounding Central Georgia counties to assist all people with their health and fitness goals. We have helped numerous of clients with having a average weightloss of 20lbs and a average of 15-25 total body inches lost by using our 12 week Wellness Program. Prices vary from $25 & Up per session. • Physical - 12 week Wellness Program - Options > 1on1 Personalized Regimens / Small group - Before and After Results + Maintaining Results
• Spiritual - Great Environment - Positive & Encouraging - Fellowship - Clients = Family supports each other - Music
• Mental - Educating through Action - Correctly workouts - Form, Proper Lifting, Focus, & Specific/Individual Body type
To learn more about us or for scheduling your free consultation: www.brighterdayfitness.com, Facebook, or Call us at 478-718-0105
Love God, Love People, Serve Others 5430 Hwy 341 North Musella, GA 31066 (478) 836-2936 www.musellabaptist.org
Musella Baptist Church 22
Jesus is Enough By Marti Sullivan Tidwell
sing on the worship team at my church and have for over 10 years. It’s such a joy to me. I started just before my older brother passed away in 2006, and I wish I could accurately put into words how worship healed me. It will always be special to me for that reason. It was the perfect balm for that season of grief. Even now, when I step onto that platform, the same one I have stood on nearly every Sunday for those 10+ years, something comes over me. Every single time. I step on that platform, and I remember.
It’s sometimes hard to remember His faithfulness through the years, all the ways he has been so gracious and loving and steadfast though the difficulty of life. We are so fickle and demanding, we forget His faithfulness too easily when life gets hard again. They say you should journal, you should write down your hurts and prayers, record the way you see God’s faithfulness in that pain and how He has answered every prayer…perhaps not in the manner you hoped, but answered nonetheless. They say you should record His faithfulness to remind you that no matter the seasons, He has brought you through. And, if we are doing our part, you came through stronger and more in love with Him than before. I’ve never journaled, though. I used to blog, but even that has gone by the wayside since starting my family. I suppose I should, writing is therapeutic for me and when I try and talk about my feelings…it never comes out quite right. Alas, who has time for writing when there are diapers to change and dinner to make, overflowing laundry and a job to do? My days are full, and I accept the season I am in.
The cross has never changed.
I remember His faithfulness, though. I remember His faithfulness every time I walk on that platform, and I gaze across the auditorium, and my eyes turn heavenward just a tad, and I see the cross. The beautiful stain glass cross I have sung to and cried to and prayed to for over a decade. The cross that has witnessed my grief, heard my laments, and the cross that has received my praise and thanksgiving. The cross that has seen me through many seasons…many pains, many hurts, much loss. The cross that has seen me through victory and blessing and triumph. The cross has never changed. Of course, it’s not about that stain glass cross. But it is about what that cross stands for…the Savior that carries my burdens, my failures, and my sin. The loving Father who patiently and perfectly orchestrates His plans for me, and brings them to pass. The Messiah who reminds me that victory is assured, even on the days when hope is bleak. All your earthly dreams can be realized, and there will still be bleak days. This earth and its promises will always fall short, I will always fall short…only Heaven will deliver the perfection and fullness that we long for. We are a fallen people in a fallen world and pain and frustration are a sure thing. But, I stand on that platform, and I look at that stain glass cross, and I remember. I remember every single wound he has bound, every single tear He has saved, every single blessing he has bestowed, and every single day He has proved faithful…over and over and over. He has NEVER left me, never forsaken me. He has brought a beautiful story to pass. Even when life seemed off the rails, He was at work in me…and I trust Him. I trust Him despite myself. He’s still working on me, thank goodness. I’ll never be able to thank Him enough, actually. So, I’ll remember. Ephraim.
KARSTEN & DENSON HARDWARE STORE Johnny Davis
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Garments of Grace
By Pam Jenkins
Communist in Hyde Park, London, pointed to a tramp and said, “Communism will put a new suit on that man.” A Christian standing nearby said, “Yes, but Christ will put a new man in that suit!” God does more than change us; He creates us a new. It’s a powerful transformation and one only the supernatural power of Heaven can bring about. When a life comes to the end of itself God can begin His work of change and renewal. Hear the words of the prophet Zechariah as he describes a scene that is taking place before the throne of God: “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘the LORD rebuke you, Satan!’… Now Joshua was clothed in filthy garments and standing before the angel. And he spoke and said to those who were standing before him saying, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, ‘See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.’” Zechariah 3:1-4 NASB Joshua, an ordinary man called to do extraordinary things, was standing before the throne of God. He was unfit, unworthy and found guilty of sin before the Holy One. Satan, the enemy of God, is heard accusing Joshua before all of Heaven. There will always be accusations heard on earth because they are first heard in Heaven. Most of us don’t need reminding of our failures, we can all do a pretty good job at it ourselves. But, just in case we forget them Satan works diligently at keeping them before us by calling them out before God and also calling them out through others. What God wanted to show the prophet Zechariah was how He responds to the sins of His servants and it’s a beautiful truth that is not only powerful but is freeing to any of us who have found ourselves in the same situation.
... the heart of God is always to forgive, not to condemn.
God never denied that Joshua was clothed in filthy garments, which represented his sins-his failures. God responds with two powerful acts: First He removes the filthy garments. In other words He took away the reproach of Joshua. In one act, God wiped away completely the ugliness of sin from his life. I John 1:9 declares; “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Bringing our lives, our garments, in all honesty before the Father no matter how dirty they may be will always be received by Him without judgment. When we fail God, and we will all fail Him at times, it’s vital that we remember the heart of God is always to forgive, not to condemn. Joshua was a servant, a High Priest, who was held to a higher standard already, so how much more would the shame be for him? Even if our position in service for God is one that comes with great accountability, even if we hold the holy office of High Priest, there is still a never ending spring of grace. God didn’t stop with removing the filthy garments from Joshua, He takes it one step further and this is the step that we often forget in our Christian Walk; He clothes him in festal robes. Festal robes represented a new life, a brand new beginning and a life that can now be celebrated in Heaven! Festal robes were worn during celebrations, times when something great has been done and needs to be honored before others. No one has the right to remove the robes God has put on, not others and not even ourselves. We cannot remove our old robes from us nor can we remove our new ones received by Heaven. Your new life will never change before the eyes of your Heavenly Father. Don’t let the guilt of failures, the accusations of others, or the whisper of the enemies reminders remove the garments of who you are in Christ. And don’t look for the old garments of another but rather rejoice in the new robes of forgiveness. After all, we’ve all been given garments of grace. The Apostle Paul sums it up best, “…Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” (I Corinthians 6:9-11) What robes are you wearing? Pam Jenkins Founder and President of Jabbok Ministries www.jabbokministries.com (Article originally from July/August 2013 LCC)
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A New Beginning
By Shirley Duncan
oday my mind traveled back to the day I came to Hephzibah Children's Home. It was 45 years ago on October 21, 1971 that I became a resident of Hephzibah Children's Home at the age of 13. I was attending Hayworth Wesleyan Church in High Point, NC, Rev. Don Dawalt was my pastor. Yes, I was the troubled little girl who wandered the streets at all hours of the day; you know the typical "bus kid" that made a noise while the preacher was preaching and always had to go to the bathroom and get a drink of water. The people at Hayworth took me under their wings and each Sunday, I sat with a loving Church member. Most of the time I sat with Beryle Asbury, the pianist. She would lovingly place her arms around me while I sat with her. I stayed with many different Church people throughout the week. I loved staying with "Big Mama" on Chestnut Street, her real name Mrs. Fronie Lewis. She told me she was too old to adopt me. I stayed with her many, many times. Then across the street from Big Mama lived Pauline and Sally Edmonds whom I stayed with until I was placed in foster care. They were going to keep me, but they were not licensed foster parents. Life was a mess for me after having lived in such an abusive environment as a young child. Plans were being made for me to move to the Wesleyan Church's Children's Home in Macon, Georgia, but I knew nothing about it. The day came when I moved to Macon, Georgia. I was driven from High Point, NC to Macon by Rev. Joe and Shirley Neyman who were Directors of Hephzibah Children's Home. I was sad the day we pulled out of the driveway from the Church leaving behind people that had become family to me. I am thankful to say that those dear people never forgot me. They sponsored me while I was a child at Hephzibah and helped invest in my college education at Southern Wesleyan University in SC. It was a new beginning for me.
Morning finally came, it was a new day.
I now have a better understanding of Jeremiah 29:11 . So thankful for the impact this ministry has had on my life. When I arrived it was dark. Mr. Neyman unloaded my two paper boxes. I walked up the steps into this brick cottage. My housemother welcomed me to my new home and showed me to my room. It was pink, my favorite color. The girls in the cottage were asleep, well most of them were. When my housemother closed my door, I got dressed for bed and cried myself to sleep. I felt so alone in this place I knew nothing about. Morning finally came, it was a new day. I quickly opened my blinds and what a beautiful place. The girls began to knock on my door and help me get ready for breakfast. The breakfast bell rang and we walked over to the dinning hall. I could smell bacon cooking as we were walking over. We had grits, eggs, bacon, grape jelly, biscuits, milk and juice. Before leaving the dining room, Mr. Neyman, the superintendent of the home played the piano and we sang songs, memorized scripture and had prayer. We were dismissed to go back to our cottage to do chores and get ready for school. I would not be going to school the first day because I had to have a physical. I loved my new home the very first day and never wanted to leave. It was on 4201 Forsyth Road where I was taught about the Lord and little did I know how my life would change! Every night our housemother; Mrs. Dorothy Allison would read devotions and have prayer with us. Then, she would give us the best snack! I can still hear her praying and calling each of our names out in prayer. Mrs. Neyman, the Caseworker taught me how to drive; that was a big day for me. I will never forget the day when I asked to go somewhere and Mr. Neyman passed me the keys to the old station wagon and said, "Drive yourself!" The person that I grew very close to through the years, was the secretary and also served as the assistant director of the home. Her name was Geraldine Fortune; now Geraldine Masters. She was soft spoken and very strict and expected you to do your chores with excellence. She said, "If you do it right the first time; you will not have to (continued on next page)
do it over!" She taught me much. She also taught me piano and was my Sunday School teacher. The day I left for College, she drove me and helped me set up my room. She deeply impacted my life spiritually and lived it out before me. She is now retired and lives in Pickens, SC. I am so thankful for the many staff who invested in me! "God's Been Faithful To Me. Looking Back His Love and Mercy I See! In My Heart I Have Questioned And Even Failed To Believe; He's Been Faithful, Faithful To Me." Yes, God's Been Faithful To Me!" Thankful for the ministry of Hephzibah Children's Home! I never dreamed it would be part of God's plan for me to return and work here. On July 1st, I started my 28th year as a staff worker serving the ministry of Hephzibah Children's Home. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Looking back, I see how God enabled me to get through a tough childhood. I am so very thankful for His Love and Mercy! In His Love, Shirley Duncan Shirley Duncan is an author and speaker and travels all across the United States. Shirley was born in Lumberton, NC. She is an American Lumbee Indian. Her life story and infectious sense of humor is treasured by all who hear her wonderful story of her brokenness at the hands of a cruel alcoholic stepfather and God’s glorious restoration and subsequent forgiveness and freedom. In her book, “I Will Go On”, you will meet the cast of characters that God used to shape her young life. Shirley serves Hephzibah Children’s Home as Director of Public Relations and has been on staff for 27 years. Shirley was removed from her home and placed in foster care at the age of 11. Through a miraculous series of events, she was placed in Hephzibah Children’s Home where she lived until she graduated from High School and College. It is a joy and her passion to repay the debt that someone once paid for her while growing up as a resident of Hephzibah Children’s Home herself. Shirley graduated from Central High School in Macon, GA and then continued her education at Southern Wesleyan University in SC. Her years of first-hand experience with foster children, teen mothers, and troubled youth has earned her the honorary ‘Masters of Mercy’ degree. What has been poured into her, she delights in pouring into others. Her life story is one of broken being turned into beautiful! Shirley is married to David Duncan, a gifted inspirational speaker in his own right, and they have three beautiful married daughters AND three AWESOME grandsons, Blake, Thomas, and Ayden.
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