Thursday, December 27, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Ed & Stefanie Dunnington, Virginia

Ed has served as campus minister for Reformed University Fellowship at the University of Washington, in Seattle, for the past eight years. He attended Virginia Military Institute and was an Army Field Artillery officer for several years. In 1994, after sensing God’s call, he left Ft. Lewis, WA to attend Covenant Theological Seminary. Ed now serves as the organizing pastor for Christ the King Presbyterian Church in Roanoke, VA. He and his wife, Stephanie, have three children: Patrick, Hunter, and Lainey.

Prayer Requests:
(1) Pray for the new members.
(2) Pray for the new Sermon Series on the gospel of Mark.
(3) Pray for the Music Ministry Leaders.
(4) Pray for financial provisions for the ministry.
(5) Pray for Youth and College Bible Studies.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Merry Christmas Indeed

“When I think of Christmas Eve, Christmas feasts, Christmas songs, and Christmas stories, I know that they do not represent a short and transient gladness. Instead, they speak of a joy unspeakable and full of glory. God loves the world and sent His Son. Whosoever believed in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. That is Christmas joy. That is the Christmas spirit.”—Corrie ten Boom

“Infinite and an infant. Eternal, yet born of a woman. Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast. Supporting a universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms. King of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph. Heir of all things, and yet the carpenter’s despised son. Oh, the wonder of Christmas.”—Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Jesus, Lord, we look to thee,
On this day of thine own Nativity;
Show thyself the Prince of Peace;
Bid our jarring conflicts cease.
Let us for each other care,
Each the other burden bear,
To thy church the pattern give,
Show how true believes live.
Make us one of heart and mind,
Courteous, pitiful, and kind,
Lowly, meek in thought and word,
Altogether like our Lord.”—Charles Wesley

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas: A Special Time, Like All Others

“It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for Christ’s return.”—Matthew Henry

We live between the comings of Christ, after His incarnation but before His return. This unique, in-between period of redemptive history is what originally prompted the early church to adopt the language of “Advent” in their celebration of the incarnation. Far from being a season of busy party-going and merry-making, Advent was marked by solemn remembrance of Christ and patient preparation for Him. During the observance of Advent, Christians readied themselves for Christ’s return by spending much time in reflection on God’s faithfulness to His promises in the incarnation and by giving themselves to self-examination, fasting, prayer, confession, repentance, reconciliation and other such spiritual disciplines.

In this way, the discipline of Advent prompted Christians to look back and forward. It was a time to give thanks for what God had accomplished in Christ at the incarnation and a time to express hopefulness for what God will advent-ually do through Christ in His return.

So, in a very real sense, Christmas is a “special time” just like all other times. The truths we contemplate at Christmas are not exclusively reserved for the days running between Thanksgiving and Dec.25th, but are the truths every Christian is called to contemplate everyday of the year! Our whole life, if you will, is Advent—a remembrance of what God has done for us in Christ and a patient preparation for Christ’s return.

May the Christmas season at FPC be marked by such remembrance and preparation, and may the spirit of this season extend throughout the year, into all our days and moments together as a church.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Jim & Caty Tate, Ecuador

Jim has been involved in Mission to the World church plants and other mission work in Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador since 1989. He works full time with Rose of Sharon Presbyterian Church, Guayaquil. He is also presently working with a national pastor in a church plant, Eternal Grace Presbyterian Church in the marginal area of Guayaquil. Caty is a native of Quito, and she received training in crisis pregnancy counseling in the US. She is director of Showers of Grace Crisis Pregnancy Center, the first in that country. They have two children Philip and Eliana.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Luci Shaw on the Incarnation

Four years ago at a used bookstore in Nashville, TN, I happened upon a gently worn copy of the Green Earth: Poems of Creation (Eerdmans, 2002) by Luci Shaw. Having never read her before, but being vaguely familiar with the book, I thumbed the pages with interest. Intrigued by the title of one of the poems I paused and read these lines:

When a tree is topped
for the power lines,
the emptiness afterwards is
inhabited by a green
throb of leaves

Like the vividness we feel about
someone just dead,
the gap,
shivers with presence.

I was hooked in no time flat! Shaw's capacity for noticing prophetic murmerings in the fallen world, even in the unsightly nubs left by the power line company, exceeded all my expectations. For me, cutting tree limbs to make space for power lines was a kind of "necessary evil," but for Shaw, it was a moment to contemplate the "shoot" that arises from the "stump of Jesse" (Isaiah 11). It is such spiritual attentiveness to the going-ons around her that has made Shaw one of the premier Christian poets of our age.

During the holiday season, I’ve revisited one of Shaw’s older works, Widening Light: Poems on the Incarnation (Harold Shaw, 1984) and received tremendous spiritual benefit from it. Here’s a snippet from “Mary’s Song,” a poem that captures some sense of the mystery we call the Incarnation.

Quiet he lies,
whose vigor hurled
a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.
His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world…

Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed
who overflowed all skies,
all years.
Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to the earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught that I might be free,
blind in my womb to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth
for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Ron & Peg Smith, Florida

Ron and Peg met at a Bible study in Washington, DC in 1981 when Ron moved there to work at a local radio station. They married in 1983 and lived in Arlington, Virginia until 1992.

Being unsuccessful at starting a family, Ron and Peg pursued an international adoption, culminating in a six-week trip to South America in 1990, where they adopted their son, Benjamin Ramón. Ten months later, Peg gave birth to Allison Maria!

The Lord opened their eyes and hearts to overseas missions on that adoption trip, so they left their careers in 1992 and moved to Jackson, MS to attend Reformed Theological Seminary.

Following seminary and Ron's ordination, the Smiths joined MTW's Guayaquil, Ecuador Church Planting Team, where they served from 1996 to 2005. Ron and Peg began English conversation clubs and classes, children's ministries, women's Bible studies and couples' ministries -- all with an evangelistic thrust. Peg taught Sunday school and trained others to teach, while Ron was involved in discipling and counseling, as well as planting and pastoring San Agustín Presbyterian Church.

In 2005 San Agustín and another church plant combined to form a congregation with an Ecuadorian pastor. With their ministry coming to an end, the Smiths returned to the U.S. to see where the Lord might lead them next.

They have been asked by Mission To the World to open new fields of mission opportunity in the English-speaking Caribbean. Their efforts include training pastors and church planters, along with mentoring, challenging and encouraging leaders as they develop strategies for communicating the Gospel and growing the church.

In the States, they hope to develop church partnerships, encourage churches to send their pastors to teach, and find some who will want to join ministry teams.

The Smiths have two children: Benjamin (12-7-89) and Allison (10-5-91).


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ John & Kathy Lesondak, Slovakia

The Lesondaks are Mission to the World missionaries in Trnava, Slovakia. Their work began in 1997 when they arrived at Trnava University to oversee Covenant College’s studies abroad program. It was a real pioneering ministry. The mission work began with English classes, children’s clubs, Bible studies, and eventually, at their ministry center known as 'The Building', a church was born. Previously they served with MTW in Seychelles Islands, in Kenya, and in Prague, Czechoslovakia. John and Kathy have six children, with the youngest about to graduate from high school.

Prayer requests:
(1) Due to the devaluation of the dollar they need to raise over $2,000 more a month before they can return to the field.
(2) Pray that the plans to expand their work in Slovakia would go forward.
(3) Pray for personnel and funds to match the vision for the ministry.


Friday, November 30, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Steve & Rita Williams, New Zealand

Since 1990 the Williams family has served with Mission to the World. Much of their earlier ministry was in Germany and Austria where they established an interdenominational retreat-counseling ministry for vocational Christian workers called Barnabas Zentrum.

In early 2006 the Williams redeployed to New Zealand where they now serve with the Grace Presbyterian Church of New Zealand. Steve serves as Coordinator of the Grace Care Community, a ministry providing pastoral oversight and counselor training for the GPCNZ. Rita works alongside her husband as Program Administrator. They are also involved in establishing Barnabas Pacific, a retreat-counseling ministry for Christian workers serving throughout the South Pacific. On the Bethlehem Campus Steve serves as a consultant with the Christian Education Trust where he is involved in interdenominational ministry, particularly in family life education providing marital preparation training for young adults. The Williams family also plans to be a core family for a church plant in their city of Tauranga, one of the fastest growing areas of New Zealand.

Steve, born in Jackson, Mississippi, grew up in Huntsville, AL and is a graduate of Grissom High School. He obtained the PhD degree from Florida State University with concentrations in both Family Social Science and Family Therapy. He also holds an M.A. degree from Wheaton Graduate School with concentrations in theology and interpersonal relations. He formerly served as adjunct professor at Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson. MS) and as Director of Family Science at Montreat College (Montreat, NC). Rita, a native of Asheville, NC, holds a B.S. in Psychology from Liberty University (Lynchburg, VA). She later served with Ben Lippen Ministries. The Williams are the parents of April (11/11/89) and Stefan (01/27/92) and live in Tauranga on the Bay of Plenty. The Williams family can be contacted at:

Their present prayer requests are as follows:

(1) Their soon to be published book Intimate Odyssey: A Journey in Discovering Your Marriage Partner (Xulon Press) is designed to be used as a ministry tool in homes, churches and Christian schools. Pray that the Lord would use this book to bless, instruct, encourage, and challenge those who read it.

(2) Finally, please continue to pray for Grace Theological College (Auckland). While there has been some continuing interest in counseling, there has been a decrease in the number of men preparing for pastoral ministry. This is a note of concern as there is a great need for men to serve as pastors in this newly developing denomination. Please pray that God will raise up men who will be called to serve as pastors and receive training at GTC.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Tom & Ann Austin, Cape Town, South Africa

Tom and Ann Austin are currently training leaders through MTW in South Africa and have been since 1983. Tom’s main concentration is on facilitating and guiding MTW ministries in theological education in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ann is serving through leading a women’s Bible study. She is also a speaker for women’s groups in the area. Previously Tom and Ann served in Kenya where they were involved in the Nairobi International School of Theology from 1987-1995. Tom served on the faculty while Ann taught Bible courses to the wives of seminary students. The couple has 2 daughters, Anna and Rebecca.

Prayer Requests:
(1) Pray for both their daughters who are in college. Pray for continued spiritual growth and development.

(2) Pray for financial support. They will need to raise their travel budget to cover their new responsibilities in Africa.

(3) Pray for Tom as he trains leaders in South Africa.

(4) Pray for safety as they travel.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Jay & Maureen Kyle, New York City, New York

Jay is currently the Coordinator of Intercultural Church Planning in New York City, New York for the Redeemer Church Planting Center. He coordinates church plants in large Asian global cities, and directs the China Partnership. Jay and Maureen previously worked with Wycliffe Bible Translators and founded the short-term missions program for Mission to the World. They served with MTW in Mexico City for fifteen years. Jay and Maureen both attended Belhaven College in Jackson, MS, and Jay later attended Reformed Theological Seminary. They have three children.

Prayer Requests:
(1) Pray for a quick recovery for their son Jeff who recently had neck surgery.
(2) Pray for Jay as he leads a seminar on East Asia at the PCA Global Missions Conference in November.
(3) Pray for safety as they travel back and forth from New York to Asia.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Wayne and Amy Newsome, Japan

Wayne is originally from Chattanooga, TN, and Amy is from Enterprise, AL. After serving with MTW in Japan since 1990, the Newsomes are more encouraged than ever before about what God is doing. Their team has been involved in planting four churches and is moving into a new phase of ministry.

With “Equipping Japanese to Reach the World” as the motto, the Nagoya Church-planting Team’s new vision encompasses a variety of ministries. The Newsomes work to expand church-planting ministries by partnering with Japanese co-workers to target new locations for new church plants. The team is also involved in beginning a seminary to enable Japanese Christians to identify their gifts and receive training for ministry. The International Christian Academy of Nagoya, which the team stared in 1999, meets the educational needs of many children in central Japan. Team members and Japanese co-workers are preparing for a counseling ministry with a desire to assist local churches in developing lay counseling programs to serve and help their communities. And with 50,000 university students in the area, the student ministry continues to be a high priority for the team.

Wayne and Amy have five children: Katelyn, Samuel, Mary Grace, Sarah, and Joshua.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Moner & Stenia Shaded, Poland

In 1968, Moner Shaded arrived in Poland from his native Syria. Although a third generation Christian, Moner did not have missionary ambitions in Poland; he came to study mechanical engineering. But God had other ideas. Under the Communist regime in Poland, Moner found few opportunities for Christian fellowship. So, with appropriate caution, he wrote to Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), inviting him to begin ministry in Poland. In response, the first campus ministry of CCC began underground in Poland, with Moner at its forefront.

For 23 years, Moner and his wife, Stenia, worked in campus and community ministry as part of CCC staff. Yet, as students came to know Jesus Christ through their ministry, Moner and Stenia were dismayed by the lack of churches where these students could continue to grow and mature. They recall, “God placed it on our hearts that the church is His primary vehicle to reach the lost. There is a great need for churches with a vision to reach the country for Christ.”

Moner and Stenia, in response to the need, planted the Good Shepherd Church in Warsaw in 1993. Along with continued ministry in the church, they are seeking to develop and equip leadership for a church planting movement.

They established Covenant Theological Seminary in Warsaw to train servants of the triune God to walk with God, to interpret and communicate God's Word, and to lead God's people.

Moner and Stenia enjoy times when their scattered family can be together. While the two youngest Filemon and Miriam live with their parents, Damaris, Amadeus, Eunika, Timothy and Luke live in different cities in Poland and the USA.

Prayer needs:
* Pray that God would raise up leaders for the church multiplication movement in Poland.
* Pray for unity in the body of Christ in Poland.
* Pray that Moner and Stenia would be effective at building a network and structure for the training and sending of multiplying church planters.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Glenn & Frances Camenisch, Portugal

Glenn and Frances have served with MTW in Lisbon since 1979. They are from Kentucky and Tennessee respectively, but were raised in Brazil where their parents were missionaries. In Brazil, the Lord brought them to faith in Jesus. Although they grew up together, they re-met after college and married in 1973.

While attending King College, where Glenn received a B.A. in psychology, he felt a call to the ministry. He then continued his training at Reformed Theological Seminary. Frances graduated from Belhaven College with a Bible major.

Upon graduation from seminary in 1976, the Camenisches served the Collinsville Presbyterian Chapel of First Church in Gadsden, Alabama. But having felt called to missions during seminary, they began preparations to go with MTW’s Brazil team to Rio. However, the Lord closed that door and led them to Europe.

In Portugal a small Presbyterian Denomination founded on the inerrancy of Scripture has since been established. Glenn and Frances work with this church through pastoring, preaching, teaching, music, outreach, and counseling.

The Camenisches have three grown children: Joel, Andrew, and Sara.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Stewardship 2008: "Old Simple Principles"

Cindy Mercer Photography

The guest speaker had ten minutes. The venue was not completely foreign. He had previously given a series of radio talks addressing issues such as the existence of God, the moral law, and the meaning and message of Jesus Christ. On this Sunday afternoon, September 27, 1942, he would address behavior, Christian behavior.

“Really great moral teachers never do introduce new moralities: it is quacks and cranks who do that,” he began. “The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see.” The speaker, a recent Christian convert and a tutor at Oxford, was professor Clive Staples Lewis. Until the day of his death, November 22, 1963, C.S. Lewis would work tirelessly to bring anyone who would listen back to the “old simple principles.”

For me, the most poignant “old simple principle” in Lewis’s broadcast talk is the last. Under the rubric of “Charity,” he confronts his listeners’ stewardship:

I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them. . . . For many of us the great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear—fear of insecurity.

Lewis concludes the address saying,

I may repeat ‘Do as you would be done by’ till I am black in the face, but I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbor as myself: and I cannot learn to love my neighbor as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him. And so, as I warned you, we are driven on to something more inward—driven on from social matters to religious matters. For the longest way round is the shortest way home.

For us, Lewis’s words are convicting. What about the original audience? C.S. Lewis, at the invitation of the BBC, was speaking to thousands of Britons who had little to give and much to lose. Such basics as meat, bacon, sugar, and butter were in rationed, short supply. Hilter’s naval blockade of the British Isles and devastating air raids on central London were a mere prologue to the coming climax and catastrophe—land invasion. Against this backdrop Lewis calls for self-sacrifice, courage, neighbor-love, and obedience. Profound.

Remember this “old simple principle” this stewardship season: Give until (when) it hurts.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Ruth Dinkins, Brazil

Ruth Dinkins was reared on the mission field of Brazil. Although she grew up in a strong Christian home, she did not accept Jesus as Lord of her life until 18 years of age. She earned her associate’s degree from Montreat Anderson Junior College and her bachelor’s degree from Pembroke State University in Pembroke, North Carolina. She returned home to Brazil in 1980 and was a teacher of Christian education at the Edward Lane Bible Institute from 1982-1987.

After earning her master’s of Christian education degree from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi in May of 1991, she accepted the position of Director of Children’s Ministries at Christ Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During her years of ministry there, Ruth invested much energy in making missions an integral part of the Christian education curriculum. She also served on the missions committee. She had been on various youth and adult mission trips to Brazil and Mexico.

In 1997, Ruth was invited to return to Brazil to serve as director of the Christian Education Department of the Edward Lane Bible Institute in Patrocinio, Minas Gerais. Besides teaching classes, she also administrates and coordinates all the students’ field/ practical work.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Ken & Kim Thompson, Georgia

Ken and Kim have been a part of MTW since 1982. Ken was born in Cuba while his parents were serving as missionaries with the West Indies Mission. He later moved from Costa Rica to Miami, where his Dad founded a new mission work called LOGOI. Early in his life Ken felt God calling him to the mission field. He attended the Moody Bible Institute where he met Kim. Upon graduation from Trinity College, Ken and Kim married and continued to pursue God’s leading in missions. Ken later graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary and was ordained as a PCA minister.

Kim was born in Lansing, Michigan, and early in life sensed God calling her into missions. She has a BA degree in Christian Education from Moody Bible Institute.

The Thompsons served as co-op missionaries with MTW and LOGOI for 13 years. In 1995 they moved to Atlanta where Ken later served as the Area Director for Africa and Latin America. From 2000 to 2003 Ken served as the International Director for Latin America. Ken continues in a missionary/staff position with MTW serving missionaries, national church planters and PCA partners with various special projects and mission efforts.

Ken and Kim have three children, Mary (25), Ben (20), and Nathan (18).

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Stewardship Thought From Jack Crawford

Legs swinging in the pew. Clothes scratchy. Clutching a quarter, sometimes two, which Dad just handed out. Prayer ends. Dr. Wymond’s hands start waving. Dr. Patterson is about to preach. Watching eagerly, the plate soon passes - - plink, plink. Sunday after Sunday (of course with some skips). Year after year. Dad and Mom subtly emphasize to my sisters and me the importance of giving to the Church.

In 1983, with my parents’ encouragement, I went on the youth group’s mission trip to Mexico led by Ed Norton. I had never seen people living in cardboard boxes. At the “market”, there were dead chickens and other animals hanging on sticks. In one area of town, with no plumbing, sewage just ran down the middle of the dirt lane. Poverty governed with a wide spread and firm grasp. From this experience, in the mist of the self-engrossed teenage years, I was truly humbled by the incredible monetary and biblical blessings that we have in the United States and at First Pres. as well as at home.

Six years later, as a counselor at Alpine on Lookout Mountain, days before the campers came, I remember struggling with my overwhelming sins compared to Christ’s love and forgiveness - - and realizing that I was truly forgiven. Honestly, from there after, it became and remains a great joy and desire to freely give to Christ’s work.

In addition to the memories above, I remember occasional comments from my parents like “we can’t afford that” or “we choose not to spend our money on those things.” And as the years progressed, I remember discussions about tithing to the church, about supporting various missionaries or supporting RTS. Looking back on it now, I see that there were healthy restrictions on our family’s spending as an outgrowth of my parents’ giving to the church. Now that I am a parent of four children, I appreciate more than ever and am motivated by those healthy restrictions.

So giving 10% of our income the Church, well honestly, that comes naturally, because . . . memories really do encourage a future response. So, are you tithing to the Church? Or are your personal pursuits more important? Do you consider pledge cards a bother or an intrusion? In my house and likely many of yours, there are a bunch of little eyes watching and waiting to emulate their parents every move. And memories - - likely memories of untold future generations - - are all being formed. May they be ones that honor and uplift Christ - - not ourselves.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Al & Wini Baker - Hartford, Connecticut

Al and Wini Baker moved to Hartford, CT in September, 2003 after serving the Golden Isles Presbyterian Church, St. Simons Island, Georgia for over ten years. Al sensed God’s call to a challenging field, and answered the call of the Southern New England Presbytery to plant a church in West Hartford. Starting with a core group of eight families, Christ Community Presbyterian Church was particularized in June, 2006 and now has sixty families attending. The plans include a multi-site expansion in the spring of 2008 with hopes of planting several more churches in Connecticut in the next several years.

Al and Wini Baker's Prayer Requests:

(1) Please pray for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to convert the lost and to bless the preaching and evangelistic ministry of our church.

(2) Please pray for God’s direction and provision for a new location for our original church, since the building in which we have been meeting for four years will soon be unavailable.

(3) Please pray for God’s direction and blessing on expanding our church planting efforts in Connecticut.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Stewardship Thought from Quentin Whitwell

Getting in the habit of taking a portion of our income and placing those funds in an envelope to drop in the offering plate on a regular basis is an important step toward spiritual maturity. This exercise produces a freedom in living for Christ that can feel as if we are “wildly” giving to God money that He can use and we have no control over. What an amazing feeling to give away without any ability to direct that money to our own self-motivated plans. Of course, the funds our church receives are wisely spent by our church elders who fervently pray for the wisdom to distribute those tithes for God’s glory. But, for us as individuals, an even greater conviction on our heart should not be what has happened to the money we have offered but what we have done with everything else we have.

In this passage (I Chronicles 29:11-12) we learn that everything is the Lord’s. Clearly, we realize that no matter how much or how little money we actually place in the offering plate at the Sunday service, God has control and dominion over every single item that we call “ours”. Digging deeper, we learn in verse 14 that all things actually come to us straight from God. Our “things” were sent from Him. Further, in verse 15 we learn more. The blessings of God to us were given to us as “pilgrims” or “temporary residents”. In heaven we will be gifted with eternal prizes as we stand before Him who we served while on earth. At FPC Jackson we all are being given a chance to prove our self worthy of having served Christ with all our heart. We are not to horde up a stash of goods for our own pleasure but to serve God and others in love without regard for the cost. Instead, we should commit our resources to advance God’s kingdom through our gifts, our service and our witness.

As we set our financial priorities, we should always include our tithe to the Lord in our household budget. Everyone’s circumstances are different, and for many folks their financial status tends to vary from year to year. In tough times, tithing is important because we are demonstrating our faith in the Lord that He will continue to provide for us even when our revenues seem lean to us. But good times can be even more difficult in some ways. Is it not true that there are times when our clothing allowance or golf expense account can put us to shame? Serving Christ by asking “How would you have me use my car(s), my home, my clothes, my life and all I have to better serve you, as those things are Yours already, O Lord?” would be a good first question for us all to ponder. We are pilgrims and God has provided us gifts which are really His, and we should let go of them more often. This week, take some time to reflect on the many ways God has used your generosity for the advancement of His kingdom. Give more and watch God bless the gift and the giver in ways we never imagined!

Quentin Whitwell


Monday, September 24, 2007

U.S. District Judge William H. Barbour Jr. to speak at FPC, Jackson

Men, mark your calendars!

On Thursday, October 4, 2007, Judge William H. Barbour Jr. will speak at our monthly Men of the Covenant Luncheon.

Judge Barbour received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. He received his Juris Doctorate Degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1966 and was selected to the Moot Court Board and Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity. Before his appointment as Judge, he was a partner at the law firm of Henry, Barbour and De Cell in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

In 1983, he was given his commission as a United States District Court Judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi by Ronald Reagan. He was elevated to Chief Judge in 1989, served in that position through 1996, and took senior status in 2006. Judge Barbour attends the First Presbyterian Church in Yazoo City, Mississippi. Judge Barbour will challenge us to live faithful lives in our particular areas of calling.

Reservations are not required and the cost of lunch is $5.00. We will begin serving lunch 11:30 a.m. and the program will end promptly at 1:00 p.m.

Questions? Contact Allison Gatlin in the discipleship office at 601-973-9128 or


Friday, September 21, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Bruce & Barbara Wannemacher, South Africa

Bruce and Barbara grew up in northern Illinois and met in elementary school. They both became Christians through a campus ministry while in college and married before their senior year. After graduation Bruce attended graduate school, earning a master’s degree. He then served as a U.S. Army officer in the Medical Service Corps.

Desiring to serve in cross-cultural missions after military service, Bruce and Barbara pursued Bible training at Covenant Theological Seminary. They both graduated in 1998; Bruce with an M. Div. degree and Barbara with an M.A. in general theological studies. During their seminary years, God confirmed their desire to serve cross-culturally through short-term missionary opportunities in England, Jordan, and Africa.

Bruce is on staff at the Bible Institute of South Africa in Cape Town, teaching and discipling African students and pastors throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Barbara is actively involved with discipling Bible college women and works off-campus teaching Bible classes at a local primary school.

Bruce and Barbara have two grown children.

Please be in prayer for Bruce and Barbara as they apply for permanent residency in South Africa.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Hymns of the Faith

This past Sunday morning our new radio program aired for the first time. Hymns of the Faith explores the devotional treasures of the ages found in our hymnal. Christianity is a singing faith, because the Lord has put a song in our hearts. So we live and die singing. On Hymns of the Faith we talk about, listen to and learn from these great songs.

The program airs every Sunday morning on WJNT 1180 AM at 9:00 a.m. and runs for an half hour. Of course, it is also available worldwide via the internet, 24/7, at or you can purchase or check out a CD from the The Presbyterian Bookstore or the Learning Resource Center, here at the church. Want to hear the great hymns of the church, learn more about who wrote them and composed them, and explore the meaning of their beautiful and beloved poetry? Then join us for Hymns of the Faith.

By the way, a number of you have said that you’ve heard the new ads for the program on the radio! I’m sure that is a relief to those who are tired of hearing the almost ten-year-old ads for First Things! Our first four hymns are airing on Hymns of the Faith in the following order: 1. 9-16-07, "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty." 2. 9-23-07, "If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee." 3. 9-30-07, "Now Thank We All Our God." 4. 10-07-07, "Our God, Our Help in Ages Past."

This coming Lord’s Day, then, we’ll be looking at the moving words and music of the great hymn, "If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee." It is a glorious and realistic and emphatically Christian and spiritual meditation on God’s providence. It is also worth memorizing.

The Cyber Hymnal™ (a resource you really should bookmark on your web-browser favorites – at says: "It was composed in 1641 with the heading ‘A Song of Comfort. God will care for and help everyone in His own time,’ under the text Psalm 55:22. The author was robbed by highwaymen near Magdeburg as a student and left destitute with no prospect of earning a living. At last he unexpectedly received an appointment as tutor in the family of a judge, ‘which, he says, . . . greatly rejoiced me, and on that very day I composed to the honor of my beloved Lord [this] hymn.’"

In this hymn, we profess our confidence in God’s goodness and guidance, even in the midst of trial. As noted above, the author wrote it after being robbed of almost all his possessions (except a prayer book) and enduring extended unemployment, so when you sing it, you are singing with a fellow Christian who personally understands about destitution and hard circumstances. How encouraging a thought that is. We are never alone in our hardships, and even when we come with great burdens and fears to church, we can sing in a fellowship of suffering, with brothers and sisters from over the ages, who personally understand what we are going through. Isn’t God kind to us?

Here’s a taste of the first stanza (original English tranlastion in bold), and my (inelegant and unpoetic, but simple and clear) translation of it follows after the * in each line. The song is written in the form of a testimonial (like so many of the Psalms), but is utterly God-centered.

If thou but suffer God to guide thee
*If you will only trust God to guide you
And hope in Him through all thy ways,
*and hope in Him in every circumstance
He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee,
*He’ll give you strength no matter what happens
And bear thee through the evil days.
*And he’ll carry you through bad times
Who trusts in God’s unchanging love
*The person who trusts in God’s unchanging love
Builds on the rock that naught can move.
*Builds on a the one Rock that no one can move.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Jon & Tracy Eide, Ukraine

Early in their marriage, Jon and Tracy felt God’s call on their lives to serve Him overseas. Jon graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and went on to seminary at Biblical Theological Seminary in suburban Philadelphia, where he received a Master’s of Divinity degree. He is ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America as a pastor/missionary. Tracy graduated from Albright College in Reading, PA with a B.S. in nursing, and worked as a critical care nurse in Philadelphia.

After spending three years with a Mission to the World church-planting team in Nikolaev, Ukraine, they returned to the U.S. where they helped start a new church among the large Russian community of Philadelphia. God has led them back to serve in Ukraine, this time in the capital city of Kiev where Jon will be mentoring Ukrainian pastors in church planting. In addition to caring for their children, Tracy hopes to continue work in children’s ministry and women’s discipleship.

Ukraine is a land of overwhelming spiritual and physical needs that only the gospel can truly meet. The Eide's desire is to be a part of God’s work there.

Jon and Tracy have two children, Alison and Natalie and are in the process of adopting a little Ukrainian boy. Please pray for them during this time.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Brief History of First Presbyterian Church (1)

The First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Mississippi (1837), is one hundred seventy years old this year, and celebrating the completion of the fourth house of worship in its history. As such, this gives us the opportunity to learn a little about God's providence over the course of our history and to reflect on some of the lessons we can learn from our past "for the living of these days."

Presbyterianism came to Mississippi long before Mississippi became a State (on December 10, 1817). One immediately thinks of, for instance, the old Salem [now Pine Ridge (PCA)] Church in Natchez that dates from 1807 - the oldest extant Presbyterian Church in the State. Within twenty years of the first Presbyterian missionaries in the territory, the Synod of Kentucky constituted the original Presbytery of Mississippi on March 6, 1816.

But there were Presbyterians and Presbyterian churches here even earlier. For instance, the Presbyterians of the New York Missionary Society (of the Presbyterian Synod of New York) had sent missionaries to work among the Choctaw Indians while Mississippi was just barely a territory (established April 7, 1798), in 1799. In 1801, the Synod of North Carolina sent three missionaries who came by way of Nashville, and down the Old Natchez Trace. They established Presbyterianism in the Natchez area (the Bethel [1804], Salem and First Natchez [1817] churches all resulted from their ministry).

In general, Presbyterianism in Mississippi has spread eastward and north out of the southwestern corner of the old territory, from what is now Adams County. Meanwhile, back in the east-central region of the State, the early influence of Presbyterians from North and South Carolina can be seen in the name of the Carolina Presbyterian Church (1841) in Neshoba County.

Presbyterian churches existed in Edwards and Clinton before Jackson. In 1826, the Bethesda Presbyterian Church was founded in Edwards, and the old Mount Salus Church was established in Clinton, prior to the organization of First Church in Jackson. The Bethesda Church is the oldest church in the Mississippi Valley Presbytery (PCA).

The congregation of First Presbyterian Church, Jackson began its history on a Saturday afternoon, April 8, 1837, by the Rev. Peter Donan and four persons: Mrs. Margaret E. Mayson, Mrs. Susan Patton, and John Robb and his wife, Marion. The organizational meeting was held in "the Old State House," Mississippi's first capitol, a small two-story structure on the northeast corner of East Capitol and North President Streets.

The organizing pastor (what today we would call a "church planter") was Peter Donan. Donan studied at Princeton Seminary under Charles Hodge and Samuel Miller, continued as the church's pastor for four years. There were no elders for two years, no deacons for six years, and no meeting house for nearly nine years. In the first two years of its existence, the church had but three new members.

Several things are interesting about the timing of the church's founding and the facts of its humble beginnings. Let me elaborate on a few.

First, the church was established just scant months before the Old School-New School division in the Presbyterian Church. Interestingly, Mississippi's representatives to the 1837 General Assembly sided with the New School party. Now there's a story to tell sometime!

Second, the church's organizing pastor, Peter Donan, studied under leading Old School theologian Charles Hodge of Princeton Seminary, who trained over 2000 student during his long and distinguished teaching career (from 1822-1878). However, Donan eventually left Presbyterianism for a sect! Yet another tale to share.

Third, the slow growth in the beginnings of First Presbyterian Church needs to be considered in light of her long-term impact. Starting with four members, growing by only two members in its first two years (Jackson probably had only about 1000 citizens then), 170 years later First Church is home to about 3100 members, is the largest Presbyterian congregation in the state, one of the largest Presbyterian churches in the United States, a flagship congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), which is itself the largest conservative Presbyterian denomination in the English-speaking world. Furthermore, God has chosen to use ministers, elders and members of First Church to play a significant role in establishing the PCA, Reformed Theological Seminary (a leading theological training center for evangelical ministry with campuses in Jackson; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Orlando, Florida), and Reformed University Ministries (a nationwide collegiate campus fellowship), as well as significantly supporting Belhaven College, French Camp, Palmer Home, Chamberlain-Hunt Academy and more.

"Do not despise the day of small things," is surely one of the messages we can learn from the modest beginnings of First Presbyterian Church, Jackson.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Upcoming Events and Important Information

The Casavant pipe organ will be used for the first time in Sunday morning worship services on Sunday, September 2, 2007. For the next two weeks, Bill Wymond will open our services at the organ and Connie Wadsworth will conclude the services using some of her favorite postludes.
Sunday evening, September 2, at 5:15 p.m., Bill Wymond will give an introductory demonstration of the organ and an explanation of its many voices. This should be of interest to everyone (adults and youth, musicians and non-musicians).

You are invited to Hutton Chapel, following the evening worship service, September 2, to hear a report by Steve Edwards on the Internationals Class.

The Fall Inquirers Class will begin Sunday morning, September 2 at 9:30 a.m. in room M130 (next to the Learning Resource Center) and run for the fall Sunday school quarter. This class is for members and visitors who want to know more about our church and its ministries, our denomination, Presbyterian doctrine and beliefs, church history, and church government. To sign up for the class or for more information contact Shannon Craft at 601-326-9243.

Join us next Sunday, September 9, for our Back to College Lunch! We will meet in the Youth House building after the 11:00 a.m. service. We hope you can join us!

First Presbyterian Church invites you to this year’s churchwide picnic at Twin Lakes, Monday, September 3. Tours of the grounds and facilities will be given throughout the day, and activities start at 2:00 p.m. There is no need to bring food. At 5:00 p.m., a barbeque meal will be served.

On Wednesday, September 5, following the fellowship supper in Miller Hall from 5:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m., we will again be meeting in the sanctuary for our Midweek Bible Study and Prayer Meetings at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 6, 11:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Mr. Frank Reich, Former NFL player and former President of RTS-Charlotte
Men, mark your calendars for our first Men of the Covenant Luncheon in our continuing series “Men, Mercy, and Missions.” We are looking forward to having Frank Reich kick off our September luncheon. Frank is best known for making two of the greatest comebacks in football history. During his football career, Frank played for the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, and the Detroit Lions, and is best known for making two of the greatest comebacks in football history. However, he has learned that both victory and defeat provide an opportunity for growth in grace in Jesus Christ. Until recently, he was President of RTS, Charlotte. He and his wife Linda have three daughters and reside in Charlotte, North Carolina. Reservations are not required, and the cost of lunch is $5.00. The luncheon will be held in Miller Hall. If you have any questions, please contact Allison Gatlin, Discipleship Ministry Assistant, at 601-973-9128 or


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Joey Wright, Mississippi College

Joseph G. Wright, IV (Joey) is the campus minister for Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) at Mississippi College. Joey has just celebrated his ninth anniversary with his lovely wife, Summer. Both Joey and Summer are from Anderson, South Carolina. Joey attended McCallie high school in Chattanooga, TN and then Mercer University in Macon, GA. After being converted in college through the ministry of RUF, he found himself attending seminary at RTS, Jackson.

Joey began ministering on MC's campus under the oversight of the Mississippi Joint Committee of Campus Work and Bebo Elkin. He worked there for two years part-time as he completed his MDiv. He has just completed his sixth year full-time there. Joey and Summer have been blessed with two covenant children: Joseph G. Wright V (Grady) who is six, and Owen Nathan Wright who is four.

Prayer Requests*-- Robert Murray M'Cheyne once commented that his congregation's greatest need was his personal holiness. Pray for Joey, that he might delight in Christ more than anything else in the world. Pray specifically that he might grow in, and live in Psalm 73:25-26 more each day.

-- Pray that Joey might be a faithful husband and father. Pray that he would not neglect his greatest earthly calling. He says it is a constant temptation to put the ministry at MC before the ministry at home. Pray that he might have the wisdom and strength to fight this temptation.

-- Pray that they would be given favor in the eyes of the new and returning students. Ministry is all about relationships, and God is the author of relationships...He gives and He takes away. Pray that He would grant them opportunities to love these students, to speak to their hearts, and to lead them in righteousness.

They would like to extend their deep gratitude to the First Presbyterian, Jackson church family. Your gracious support and encouragement have been an unspeakable blessing to them. They say thank you, from the depths of their hearts for partnering with them in this ministry!


Monday, August 27, 2007

Frank Reich to Speak at FPC

September 6, 2007
First Presbyterian Church, Miller Hall
11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Men, don't miss this opportunity for fellowship, outreach, and mutual encouragement! Bring friends along with you.

Frank Reich is known for his incredible comebacks. During his football career, playing for the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, and the Detroit Lions, he led his teams to victory twice in the face of virtually insurmountable odds. However, his record setting comebacks are just part of the story he shares. He has learned that both victory and defeat provide an opportunity for growth in grace in Jesus Christ. Until recently, he was President of RTS, Charlotte. He is currently pastor of Cornerstone ARP Church in Charlotte, NC. Frank and his wife, Linda, have three daughters.

Reservations are not required and the cost of lunch is $5.00. Please contact Allison Gatlin in the discipleship office if you have any further questions: 601-973-9128 or

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Ellen Barnett, Mexico

Ellen is a native Tennessean who also claims North Carolina as home. She studied elementary education at Wheaton College and recently received her MA in Biblical Studies from Covenant Seminary.

Ellen doesn’t know of any time she didn’t know Jesus as her loving friend. She accepted Him as Lord and Savior before age five.

As a result of early contacts with missionaries, Ellen felt the only reasonable response to the Lord’s work in her life was to serve Him in missions. In her teens she reexamined that desire in light of her fears and limitations, but the Lord reconfirmed her decision as she trusted in His power for His work.

Ellen has served in Acapulco since 1975 with MTW. Her ministry has included Bible studies; work with children, youth and singles; and leadership training in Acapulco and Guerrero State. Ellen’s present responsibilities include development and teaching in Maranatha Bible Institute and teacher-training seminars throughout Mexico. She especially enjoys discipling young people through these ministries. Recently Ellen has worked in the formation of New Horizon, a Christian primary/preschool. Ellen is involved in finding resources for development, strategic training for the staff and board, and fundraising for property and future construction.

Pray for Ellen as she prepares for her HMA from October 2007-June 2008. Pray for provision of teachers at New Horizon School, as well as new students and funds for the building payments.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Saturday Night Thought for Lord's Day Worship (August 19, 2007)

David F. Wells, one of the most insightful and widely respected Christian theologians and cultural analysts of our times, has recently said: "In our time, understanding our culture takes on an urgency because this culture is so intrusive and so powerful in its capacity to shape our souls and minds that if we are not pushing back from an explicitly biblical, Christian point of view – we are going to get swallowed up." Wells is absolutely right, and Paul's inspired and prophetic words are more timely than ever as we have contemplated them in Philippians 1:27-28 – "let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents."

So as we prepare to praise God in this congregation today, let me exhort you, dear brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2).


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Chuck & Lauren Askew, South Carolina

Chuck Askew is the campus minister for Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) at Coastal Carolina University. Chuck is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but became involved with RUF in his time at the University of Florida.

After graduating, Chuck desired to test his gifts for ministry and so he spent 2 years as an intern with RUF at Mississippi State. After those two years, Chuck went to RTS Jackson for seminary. There he met his lovely wife Lauren, originally from Syracuse, New York, who was in the Marriage and Family Therapy program of RTS. After graduating in 2005, Chuck and Lauren moved to Conway, South Carolina to start the RUF at Coastal Carolina University.

Coastal Carolina University is a public university in the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina area. Coastal has 8,000 students, drawing heavily from the Northeastern states. You are just as likely to meet someone from New York, Pennsylvania or Ohio as you are to meet a native of South Carolina on Coastal's campus.

During the first year of the Askew's ministry at CCU, God blessed them with their first son, Charlie, who is now 21 months old. This past April, the Lord blessed the Askew family with the birth of a daughter, Eleanor Katherine Askew.

Please pray for:
*Freshmen Outreach this fall: Pray that God would connect new students to the ministry of RUF.

*Developing leaders: Pray that God would use RUF to equip and encourage students to reach out to their friends and classmates.

*An office near campus: Pray that God would provide an office at or near the campus for Chuck to be able to have a place to prepare for Bible studies in between student meetings.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Fall MOC Luncheon Line Up

The fall line up is set! Don't miss this wonderful opportunity the first Thursday of each month to join with men of all ages from the church and community. No advanced registration is required. Just come, and invite friends and co-workers.

First Presbyterian Church, Miller Hall
11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

“Men, Mercy, and Missions”

September 6th – Mr. Frank Reich
Former NFL player

Frank Reich, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, is known for his incredible comebacks. During his football career, playing for the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, and the Detroit Lions, he led his teams to victory twice in the face of virtually insurmountable odds. However, his record setting comebacks are just part of the story he shares. He has learned that both victory and defeat provide an opportunity for growth in grace in Jesus Christ. Until recently, he was President of RTS, Charlotte. He is currently pastor of Cornerstone ARP Church in Charlotte, NC. Frank and his wife, Linda, have three daughters.

October 4th – Judge William H. Barbour Jr.
Senior Judge

Judge Barbour received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. He received his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1966 and was selected to the Moot Court Board and Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity. Before his appointment as Judge, he was a partner at the law firm of Henry, Barbour and De Cell in Yazoo City, Mississippi. In 1983, he was given his commission as a United States District Court Judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi by Ronald Reagan. He was elevated to Chief Judge in 1989, served in that position through 1996, and took senior status in 2006. Judge Barbour attends the First Presbyterian Church in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

November 1st - Dr. David Elkin
UMMC Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior

Dr. Elkin received his undergraduate degree in Philosophy and History at Vanderbilt and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Memphis. For his postgraduate work, he was an intern in Pediatric Psychology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and also completed advanced training in the Interdisciplinary Training Program in Child Abuse and Neglect at the Center on Child Abuse and Neglect at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He is involved in many professional memberships including the American Psychological Association, International Neuropsychological Society, and Sigma Xi the Scientific Research Society and has done much funded research in the area of psychology. He is married to Allie Elkin and has four daughters, Bailey Grace, Emma, Sarah, and Claire.

December 6th – Dr. George May
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Dr. May, a native of Jackson, MS, completed his undergraduate degree at Mississippi State University and received his postgraduate degree at the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry, after which he finished his Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency at Parkland Memorial, a teaching hospital of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Dallas. He participates in many local professional and community service organizations, and has been actively involved for many years with Student Ministries at First Presbyterian Church, Jackson. Dr. May and his wife, Cathy, have three daughters, Elizabeth, Laura Cate, and Caroline.

Reservations are not required and the cost of lunch is $5.00. Please contact Allison Gatlin in the discipleship office if you have any further questions: 601-973-9128 or


The Pursuit of Happiness

Some people think that if they are Christians, they will miss out on the joys, and happiness and pleasures that they might have had if they were not Christians. They are tempted to think they cannot be as happy as Christians as they could be if they were not. They think that to love God, to obey his commands, to pray, to worship, to pursue godliness and to live as Christians, is gloomy business.

But God tells us that none can be truly happy and really joyful but the one who loves him. And every one who has repented of sin, trusted in Christ and who loves the Savior, knows that there is more happiness in this new life than in any other.

A person may indeed be happy a little while without fellowship with God. But misfortunes and sorrows will come. Your hopes of pleasure will be disappointed. You will be called to weep; to suffer pain; to die. And there is no one but God, and nothing but knowing Him through the risen Savior, Jesus Christ, which can console you in trials, give you a deep and lasting and true happiness, and a peace in the hour of death.

It is that you may be happy, not unhappy, that God wishes you to be a Christian. In fact, God wants us to be supremely happy in him, joyful in him, delighted and delighting in him. The Gospel call is to the greatest happiness - everlasting, grace-enabled enjoyment of God. No other happiness approaches it. After all, it was Jesus who said to his disciples: "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11).

(the above is my take on this John Abbot quote below)

"Some children appear to think that if they are Christians, they cannot be so happy as they may be if they are not Christians. They think that to love God, and to pray, and to do their duty, is gloomy work. But God tells us that none can be happy but those who love him. And every one who has repented of sin, and loves the Savior, says that there is more happiness in this mode of life than in any other. We may indeed be happy a little while without piety. But misfortunes and sorrows will come. Your hopes of pleasure will be disappointed. You will be called to weep; to suffer pain; to die. And there is nothing but religion which can give you a happy life and a peaceful death. It is that you may be happy, not unhappy, that God wishes you to be a Christian." (John S. C. Abbott, The Child at Home: The Principles of Filial Duty)

(HT: Justin Taylor, for helping me track down the author and source of the Abbott quote)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Craig & Lisa Sheppard, Bulgaria

Craig and Lisa Sheppard have been serving the Lord with Mission to the World in Sofia, Bulgaria since 1996, where he serves as a church planter, seminary instructor, publisher, and founding board member for the Sofia Christian Academy. As the MTW Regional Director for Eastern Europe, Craig is also tasked with overseeing the ministries of more than 65 missionaries in five countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Ukraine), as well as developing new church planting works in other Eastern European countries (such as Russia, Greece, Latvia, Croatia, and Belarus).

Craig is from Wichita, Kansas and Lisa is from St. Louis, Missouri. They served together in university ministry for four years before Craig attended Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. There he earned a Master of Divinity degree in Missions, and a Master of Theology degree in Theology. While in seminary, Craig served on the staff of the First Presbyterian Church as the Director of College Ministry. He is ordained in the Heartland Presbytery of the PCA. They have four sons and a daughter (Jared, 16; Nathan, 14; Luke, 11; Andrew, 8; and Abigail, 6).

They are still missing four bags from their trip back to Bulgaria. Please pray that their luggage is found soon and that it would arrive back to them in good condition.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Labor Day Picnic

The annual Labor Day church picnic is scheduled for Monday, September 3, 2007. A BBQ supper will be served at 5:00 p.m. and the facility will be open throughout the day. Make plans now to see Twin Lakes and to take part in the fun activities. The activities begin at 2:00 p.m. and include:
Waterslide & the Inflatable Water Park
Horseback Rides
3 Story Treehouse
Giant Swings
And much, much more.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Exterior and Interior Pics of New Meeting House


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Sidney & Louise Anderson, Czech Republic

Sidney and Louise have had the privilege of serving in the US, Nigeria, and the Czech Republic. Louise came to faith in Christ through the witness of her mother, and Sidney through the witness of his parents.

In Nigeria, the Andersons worked with the Tiv Tribe, laboring in the areas of theological education and evangelism. The vibrant spiritual climate among the Tiv stands in stark contrast to that of Prague, Czech Republic, where John Hus, forerunner of the Reformation, once boldly served the Lord. Today only about half of one percent of all Czechs are Evangelical Christians.

The Andersons’ goal is reformation in Central Europe. They plan to approach this enormous task by (1) church planting, (2) theological training, and (3) the publication of Reformed literature. They know, on the other hand, that without prayer nothing of eternal weight can be accomplished. The task is too enormous in such a thoroughly secularized culture. Will you join with them in prayer for the Czech Republic? Three churches have been started – one at Zlin in Moravia (now particularized), another at Zbraslav in Southern Prague, and one at Strechovice in Northern Prague. There are plans for a fourth congregation in Modrany, also part of Prague, the capital city.

Sidney and Louise have one son named Paul.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Will & Judi Traub, Charlotte, North Carolina

The Traubs met in 1975 on a blind date during Will’s last year of studies at Westminster Theological Seminary and were married in 1976. Both Will and Judi were raised in Christian homes where foreign missions were promoted, and missionaries were often guests. Will was the pastor of Peace Reformed Church in Loveland, Colorado, and Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, in Blacksburg, Virginia, prior to leaving for Germany.

The Traubs have served with Mission to the World in Germany since 1988, where Will was study director of a house for evangelical theology students at the University of Gottingen. He also assisted in the formation of the first “Confessing Congregation” in Germany since Nazi times in Neuwied. He continues to teach at the Academy for Reformational Theology in Marburg and the Martin Bucer Seminary in Berlin.

Presently Will is coordinator of theological education and training for MTW Europe. This ministry involves providing theological education for national pastors and leaders in countries where MTW has church-planting teams. He also helps to provide career-path development assistance and training to MTW missionaries in Europe.

Please pray that God would raise up a new generation of Europeans who will reach their countries with the gospel.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Carl & Becky Chaplin, Georgia

After serving 14 years in the Czech Republic, Carl and Becky have begun work promoting and advancing church planting in Europe. Working with European partner and PCA churches, they seek to expand the church across Europe where less than 1% of the population is evangelical. The couple previously ministered with the Reformed Church of the Czech Republic. Carl graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary in 1982 and served as pastor of Grace PCA in Jackson, TN from 1982-1989. The Chaplins have three children: Ellis, Rob, and Carolann.

· Please pray for their service in Latvia and Lithuania in June and July as they help the churches with their evangelistic outreach and the discipleship of believers. Pray that Carl and Becky will learn better how MTW can serve Latvia in the future.

· Pray for the Czech English Camps and for Becky as she goes to teach and to help run the camps. Pray for God to work in the lives of the Czechs who will attend and in the lives of the team members.

· Pray for God to raise up new missionaries as Carl speaks at seminaries and in churches.

· Pray for Becky’s ESL teaching in the Atlanta area next fall.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Lines For Summer (3)

Cindy Mercer Photography, "Seats at Fenway"

“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”

“That is why it breaks my heart, that game--not because in New York they could win because Boston lost; in that, there is a rough justice, and a reminder to the Yankees of how slight and fragile are the circumstances that exalt one group of human beings over another. It breaks my heart because it was meant to, because it was meant to foster in me again the illusion that there was something abiding, some pattern and some impulse that could come together to make a reality that would resist the corrosion; and because, after it had fostered again that most hungered-for illusion, the game was meant to stop, and betray precisely what it promised.”

“Of course, there are those who learn after the first few times. They grow out of sports. And there are others who were born with the wisdom to know that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough among us, the ones who can live without illusion, or without even the hope of illusion. I am not that grown-up or up-to-date. I am a simpler creature, tied to more primitive patterns and cycles. I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun.”

From A. Bartlett Giamatti, “The Green Fields of the Mind”

Giamatti frames his search for "something abiding" in a reflection on the game he loves. "I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game." Giamatti earned his doctorate from Yale University in 1964 and spent most of his career as professor of comparative literature at Yale and Princeton. He served as president of Yale University from 1977 to 1986. He was the youngest president of the university in its history. He became president of the National Baseball League in 1986 and Commissioner of Baseball in 1989. He died suddenly of a massive heart attack at the age of 51 on September 1, 1989. From all indications, his restless heart never rested in Christ. He rejected Him to the end.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Dave & Jan Veldhorst, Thailand

Rev. Dave and Jan Veldhorst have been in Thailand with their 5 children since graduating from Covenant Seminary in August, 2000. The Mission to the World-Thailand team has been blessed to see God answer many prayers from the early years of field ministry. God has blessed them with a good team composed of 4 families from the US, 2 single women, and 4 full time Thai staff.

The team currently has several support ministries that help with the work of church planting. Dave and Jan have begun work on Ramkhamheng University campus in the Bangna area. They have established New Community Foundation--a foundation that reaches out to the poor in their area through word and deed ministries. New Community English currently seeks to build relationships with about 100 students through teaching conversational English. New City Fellowship Church has English worship on Sunday morning and Thai worship in the afternoon with about 30 attending each service. Dave and Jan have much to be thankful for with regards to the ministry there. Years ago they asked God especially for two things: the ability to speak the Thai language and the development of a good network with other Christian leaders. God, in His kind providence, has answered both prayers. They are still praying for a full time Thai pastor to come and lead the church planting work.

God has also blessed their family. Their oldest son James will finish up his last year of high school in Thailand and then will be entering college stateside. They have seen their other children grow, both as young children and young teens, spiritually and relationally. Jan and Dave also will be celebrating 18 years of marriage. This year marks the 10th year that they have enjoyed their marriage in a cross cultural foreign context. They have no regrets that the Lord has called them to the gospel ministry overseas as a couple.

Goals for the year ahead include being more active in discipling young Thai believers and being more intentional in mentoring the young Bible College and seminary interns assisting them. Growing in balancing work and rest also is an ongoing prayer need and goal. Dave and Jan give God thanks for 36 supporting churches and the way First PCA Jackson has shown great support both financially, through prayer, and through sending short term teams there.

* Pray for peace in Thailand. There is an unsettled feeling as the country moves to vote in November on a new prime minister.

* Pray for wisdom for Dave and Jan as they minister in Thailand.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Robert C. Cannada's Homegoing

It pleased the Lord to gather to Himself His servant, Robert C. "Bob" Cannada, faithful Ruling Elder of this congregation, on Thursday, July 5, 2007, around 1 o'clock p.m., in Jackson, Mississippi.

The Funeral Service and Visitation will be at First Presbyterian Church. As follows:

Visitation, Miller Hall, Monday, July 9, 2007, 5 until 8 o’clock p.m.

Visitation, Courtyard (adjacent to Sanctuary), Tuesday, July 10, 2007, 9 until 10:30 o’clock a.m.

Funeral, Tuesday, July 10, 2007, 11 o'clock a.m., followed by a Graveside Service at Lakewood Memorial Park.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Bill & Marion Baldwin, Greece

Bill was born in St. Louis, Missouri and moved to Houston, Texas when he was 15. In college his roommate invited him to church and there he made a public confession of his faith. After college, with a BS in Religion he attended Moody Bible Institute for one year and then Dallas Seminary where he received his MTh. While at seminary he met Bob Evans, founder of Greater Europe Mission and felt that GEM's thrust of starting Bible Colleges all over Europe was a wise idea. For some reason God placed Greece on Bill’s heart. GEM expected all candidates to attend Missionary Internship, a 7-month training program for would-be missionaries, in Detroit, which is where Bill & Marion met.

Marion was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. She graduated from Toronto Bible College and then became a registered nurse before going to Missionary Internship.

Bill served as youth pastor at West Chicago Bible church for one year after their marriage and then a year later, having raised their support, Bill & Marion left for Greece with a very simple job description: start a Bible Institute. So....that's what they did....and therein lies a LONG story of learning a language, gaining the trust of the Greek evangelicals, finding a 'home' for the Greek Bible Institute, finding teachers and students and the money to pay for it all....GOD HAS BEEN FAITHFUL. Bill has taught all the Theology courses at the Bible college, Marion used to teach a course to young women, but now does the book-keeping for the college for Greater Europe Mission.

Today the director of the college is their son Jeff. The graduates are pastors of the majority of the Greek Evangelical churches in Greece. They head up most para-church organizations in Greece, and are also serving as missionaries.

Bill and Marion’s four children have all married Greeks and 2 of them are also missionaries with GEM in Greece. Thank God they are all committed Christians, married to people from committed Christian homes. They also have 11 grandchildren.

Bill & Marion first heard of First Presbyterian church in Jackson, Mississippi when their then pastor, Don Patterson, asked Bill to lead a tour group he was bringing to Greece. Bill and Marion got a burden for Greece and even sent Van and Alice Rusling to Greece to work with the GEM team for a few years. Van actually taught Marion her job!

Please pray for Bill and Marion as they serve in Greece.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

July 4, 1942

Cindy Mercer Photography

On July 4, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt challenged the nation to vigilance in war-time. He called for Americans to continue working through the Independence Day Holiday. The War and Navy Departments, the Post Office, and the State Department all put in a regular day's work. Roosevelt set the example for the nation by scheduling a full day of work at the White House. Many businesses and corporations in the private sector remained opened. The few ceremonies held that day were mostly military-related exercises. In Philadelphia at the base of the Liberty Bell, 200 young men were inducted into the armed forces while in New York citizens there hear over 400 air raid sirens wail at noon. There was a marked absence of fireworks that night due to blackouts in all cities and towns. Roosevelt said:

For 166 years this Fourth Day of July has been a symbol to the people of our country of the democratic freedom which our citizens claim as their precious birthright. On this grim anniversary its meaning has spread over the entire globe--focusing the attention of the world upon the modern freedoms for which all the United Nations are now engaged in deadly war.

On the desert sands of Africa, along the thousands of miles of battle lines in Russia, in New Zealand and Australia, and the islands of the Pacific, in war-torn China and all over the seven seas, free men are fighting desperately--and dying--to preserve the liberties and the decencies of modern civilization. And in the overrun and occupied nations of the world, this day is filled with added significance, coming at a time when freedom and religion have been attacked and trampled upon by tyrannies unequaled in human history.

Never since it first was created in Philadelphia, has this anniversary come in times so dangerous to everything for which it stands. We celebrate it this year, not in the fireworks of make-believe but in the death-dealing reality of tanks and planes and guns and ships. We celebrate it also by running without interruption the assembly lines which turn out these weapons to be shipped to all the embattled points of the globe. Not to waste one hour, not to stop one shot, not to hold back one blow--that is the way to mark our great national holiday in this year of 1942.

To the weary, hungry, unequipped Army of the American Revolution, the Fourth of July was a tonic of hope and inspiration. So is it now. The tough, grim men who fight for freedom in this dark hour take heart in its message--the assurance of the right to liberty under God--for all peoples and races and groups and nations, everywhere in the world.

(Source: New York Times, 5 July 1942, 23.)


Monday, July 02, 2007

Lines For Summer (2)

Cindy Mercer Photography

Whatever happens,
those who have learned
to love one another
have made their way
to the lasting world
and will not leave,
whatever happens.

Wendell Berry, Sabbaths 1998

Friday, June 29, 2007

Report on our team in Peru

PCA minister Roland Barnes is in Peru right now, and gives this glimpse of what our own team (led by Ruling Elder Danny Story) is doing:

"Yesterday, after a time of devotion and prayer, we continued work at the construction site. Some of us were pounding away with a small sledge hammer busting up an old concrete column so we could remove it.

Others were cutting rebar into lengths so that they could then be bent into a square shape. These pieces of rebar will be used to build the rebar frame for a new column. Other workers were mixing concrete so they could pour it into the footings. At the same time that we are working on the building the medical team from FPC, Jackson is at work in the church building. They had to close the doors this morning because someone put an announcement on a local radio station about the free clinic and when they arrived this morning there were already too many people to see. They worked until 8:00 p.m. last night. The sanctuary is the waiting room and the back rooms are the patient rooms. Phil went over and translated an evangelistic message for those who were waiting to be seen. There is also a cardiologist from FPC, Jackson who is seeing patients. There is another group of people from FPC, Jackson who are doing VBS and sports with the children."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Hugh & Martine Wessel, Proclaiming Christ in France

Hugh and Martine met in 1969 while Hugh was serving in the United States Army in Munich, Germany. They were converted at L’Abri in Switzerland in 1972, and were married by their pastor, Francis Schaeffer, in 1973.

The Wessels have been serving with Mission to the World since 1979. Their initial charge: church planting, evangelism and church renewal. During their second term, the Wessels founded the Marseille Team. In 1989 Hugh was made country director for France, and supervised teams with CoMission in Ukraine. In 1995 Hugh was asked to be European regional director for MTW, giving oversight to church-planting teams, opening new fields, and training missionaries.

Currently, Hugh has moved into a role of consultant for research and development. In addition, he trains French pastors and laypeople in evangelism; gives oversight to French church plants; and preaches, teaches, and lectures throughout France.

Martine has ministered through teaching Sunday school, using their home extensively for hospitality, and leading women’s Bible studies. Martine and Hugh have three adult children: Laurence, Damaris, and Nils.

Please pray for the Wessels as they spread the gospel in France.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Many Mansions"

On December 25, 1737, after the seating of the third new meetinghouse in Northampton’s history, Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon entitled, “Many Mansions.” In eighteenth century New England, seats in the meetinghouse were assigned according to social rank. The sermon is based on John 14:2, “In My Father’s house are many mansions.” This is his conclusion:

'Tis very little worth the while for us to pursue after honor in this world, where the greatest honor is but a bubble and will soon vanish away, and death will level all. Some have more stately houses than others, and some are in higher office than others, and some are richer than others and have higher seats in the meeting-house than others; but all graves are upon a level.

But the mansions in God's house above are everlasting mansions. Those that have seats allotted 'em there, whether of greater or lesser dignity, whether nearer or further from the throne, will hold 'em to all eternity. This is promised, Revelation 3:12 :"Him that overcometh I will make him a pillar in the temple [of my God, and he shall go no more out]." If it be worth the while to desire and seek high seats in the meeting-house, where you are one day in a week, and where you shall never come but few days in all; if it be worth the while much to prize one seat above another in the house of worship only because it is the pew or seat that is ranked first in number, and to be seen here for a few days, how will it be worth the while to seek an high mansion in God's temple and in that glorious place that is the everlasting habitation of God and all his children!

You that are pleased with your seats in this house because you are seated high or in a place that is looked upon honorable by those that sit round about, and because many can behold you, consider how short a time you will enjoy this pleasure. And if there be any that are not suited in their seats because they are too low for them, let them consider that it is but a very little while before it will [be] all one to you whether you have sat high or low here. But it will be of infinite and everlasting concern to you where your seat is in another world. Let your great concern be while in this world so to improve your opportunities in God's house in this world, whether you sit high or low, as that you may have a distinguished and glorious mansion in God's house in heaven, where you may be fixed in your place in that glorious assembly in an everlasting rest.

Let the main thing that we prize in God's house be, not the outward ornaments of it, or a high seat in it, but the word of God and his ordinances in it. And spend your time here in seeking Christ, that he may prepare a place for you in his Father's house, that when he comes again to this world, he may take you to himself, that where he is, there you may be also.

From Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, edited with introduction and notes by H. Horman Gardiner, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1904.