Weekly Writings

Rain On My Parade

By Alice Holt

July 10, 2020

Have you ever used the phrase “Don’t rain on my parade?” When you think about it raining during a parade it does seem like a total disaster. Lots of hairspray and makeup are lost by those beautiful queens riding on the back of convertibles. Floats made out of tissue paper or posters turn to complete mush. The band members do whatever they can to protect their instrument from getting soaked. And the candy, all of the glorious candy, just washed away and gone to waste. 


I think we all would say 2020 has felt like a big rainy parade. Every twist and turn seems to have disaster written all over it! Spring Break trips were cancelled, weddings were rescheduled or postponed. Easter! We didn’t get to properly celebrate Easter! Then school just became a complete mess for students and parents! Our teachers and administrators became stuck and parents became overwhelmed. So many good traditions for graduating seniors became one disappointment after another. International students can’t go home or if they did go home they can’t get back. The list could go on as all of our everyday routines changed completely. 2020 has been a complete wash out!


Let me ask a question, “Has 2020 been a total wash out?” Our trips got cancelled so we decided to make life fun at home; some even camped out and roasted s’mores. When school got cancelled we were reminded as teachers and parents how absolutely precious a good education is and its necessity to be well maintained. The community got creative and chose inventive ways to show our graduates we recognized the milestone they had now reached. Families, even struggling ones, had time to slow down and look their problems in the eye. Laughter and game nights happened. Creativity showed off again. Church realized it wasn’t about a building, it was about Jesus! So I ask again, “Has 2020 been a total washout?”


When rain hits your parade, do you dance? Do you giggle even though you are soaking wet? Do you jump in a puddle simply because you are already soaking wet so why not? Do you mischievously splash someone a little more? Do you wait around to see the rainbow?


We could have said COVID-19 rained on our VBS parade. Everything we knew VBS to be had to be cancelled. Every grand decoration and singing and laughter and hugs got cancelled. It all got cancelled until we made the rain a part of our parade. Things sure looked different. We had to learn to march to a different drum beat and we were not all glamorous and glitz like we would have been normally. We even had to learn a new route for our parade. Despite our new parade one thing didn’t change, the Grand Marshall. The Grand Marshall is not afraid of change, in fact, sometimes I think He changes it up just to see if everyone is paying attention. No matter what, the Grand Marshall leads the parade through the route that was planned all along.


In VBS this week the kids learned that Jesus’ Power Pulls Us Through. Each day we talked about a different aspect of Jesus’ power in our lives. They learned Jesus’ power will see them through all of the hard times they will face and he will give them hope as they face them. He will give them the boldness they need to walk through those difficult moments of life. They also learned though, that Jesus’ power in us only comes from Jesus so without Him we will not have the strength to power through situations in life. He offers his power to us as a free gift when we accept His love, forgiveness, and grace. He guides us and teaches us how to be good to others so they can see Jesus’ love living in us. All this week we have been able to show these kids a beautiful and powerful picture of God. Wouldn’t you say that is pretty timely?


Your parade probably looks different, and it may not be as pretty as you imagined it to be, but there is still a parade happening. When rain hits, do you laugh or grumble? Even when you are sad things got ruined, do you still look for the rainbow after the rain stops? Have you actually looked to see what the Grand Marshall is doing so you can go on?

 

Jesus’ Power Helps Us Do Hard Things! ~ Trust Jesus!

“For I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:14


Jesus’ Power Gives Us Hope! ~ Trust Jesus!

“So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!” Psalm 31:24


Jesus’ Power Helps Us Be Bold! ~ Trust Jesus!

“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Isaiah 40:29


Jesus’ Power Lets Us Live Forever! ~ Trust Jesus!

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.” Romans 8:11


Jesus’ Power Helps Us Be Good Friends! ~ Trust Jesus!

“Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” John 15:12

 

Thank you to all who danced in the rain while planning and having the Rocky Railway VBS @ Home parade!

Happy 4th!

By Josh Moyers

July 3, 2020

Interesting July 4th facts:

- Americans eat 155 million hot dogs each July.
- Americans spend $1 billion on fireworks each July.
- The 4th of July became a national holiday in 1870.
- John Hancock was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence.
- The Liberty Bell rings 13 times on July 4th to honor the 13 original states.
- The 30th president of the United States was born on July 4th, Calvin Coolidge.


Coolidge once said, “Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshiped.”


If there is one thing that all Americans strive after, it is prosperity. It’s not bad to have material things or to have financial wealth. It’s not sinful to be a successful business man. Many have all heard and looked at reaching the American dream. Reaching the American dream isn’t a bad dream to move towards. The problem is when we turn a good thing into a god thing.


No matter what ones opinion is of Coolidge as president, this quote is relevant for today. Prosperity can look differently to different people. I would argue that there are various levels of prosperity that are somewhat subjective. The warning that we read in this quote is one that we all should take seriously.


Jesus speaks to the rich young man in Mark 10:17-31. We know this story well. This man looks to his obedience to the law as a means of him being approved of and seen as good. He proudly responds to Jesus’ comments until it comes to the mans wealth. When Jesus says this man should go and sell all his possessions and give it to the poor, the man walks away. “Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshiped.” When we take our eyes off of God and put them on anything or anyone else, we have in a sense, worshipped another god.


I encourage you this July 4th to spend time realizing how God has blessed you. Not necessarily with financial wealth, not necessarily by reaching the American dream, not necessarily by reaching your view of what prosperity is, but by understanding how God has blessed you with your freedom and more specifically, your freedom from sin.


Galatians 5:13-14 - 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."


Happy Independence Day and God bless you.

God With Us

By Scott Eaton

July 26, 2020

Matthew 1:23 - “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name “Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”


In the midst of the turmoil that we are facing as a nation, there is one thing we can be certain of: God is with us! Just as we are facing so much unrest, the same was true at the time of Jesus’ birth. There was much religious and political upheaval. Yet in the midst of it all, God came to dwell among mankind in the form of a baby.


In my last written devotional, we took a look at Psalm 139, which is a prayer by the psalmist for God to examine his heart. In this passage, David acknowledges that God knows all things. David writes “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar”. In Psalm 139, David stresses two characteristics of God: God is all knowing (omniscient) and God is in all places (omnipresent).


In relation to the wonderful truth that God IS with us, let’s look at the verses in this passage that speak of His presence in our lives. Here are some points to keep in mind:


1. His presence goes behind us and before us. (Verse 5). “You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me”. David is suggesting here that God is guarding a valuable object.


2. His presence is inescapable. (Verses 7-10).

      “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.”


3. His presence overcomes darkness. (Verses 11-12).

      “If I say, surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night. Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.”


4. His presence can be sensed when we awake from our rest. (Verses 17-18)

       “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.”


During these turbulent times, we need to be more aware of the fact that the presence of God is among us. We would be wise like David to pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts.” God knows and understands our difficulties. He promises to be with us in the midst of it all.


In the presence of Jehovah

God Almighty Prince of Peace

Troubles vanish, hearts are mended

In the presence of the King

(Geron and Becky Davis)


Back in the Saddle Again

By Josh Moyers

June 19, 2020

It’s happening! We are getting back in the saddle. Things are starting back up, people are picking up the pieces so to speak regarding living life with COVID-19. Church is starting back this weekend for many at First Baptist Church Ellijay. With three services starting at 8:30am, 9:45am, and 11:00am, we are excited to be back together to worship God, who alone, can bring peace in the midst of a storm, comfort in the midst of pain, and clarity in the midst of confusion. 


Many have used their time wisely while living through COVID-19 while others have struggled through this season. Marriages have experienced levels of stress as never seen before. Parents have had their patience tested. Employers have struggled through caring for their employees. Individuals have faced financial burdens. All of this has occurred with the absence of Christian community to live life with. 


I hope that you all will take the opportunity to reconnect with your church family wherever you may go. If you don't have a church family, consider making FBC Ellijay your church family. Life is not meant to be lived without Christian community. The challenge, rebuke, and encouragement that other brothers and sisters in Christ provide is necessary for Christian living. 


Colossians 3:16 states, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” I pray this will be our focus as we gather together once again, that our desire would be to hear from God’s Word, that it would cause us to fall more in love with Jesus and that as we sing and praise God our motives would be pure.