Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Hope of the Gospel

Today was a great day! I woke up early for prayer and reading before heading to the church for morning prayers. Throughout the day the Lord impressed upon my heart the importance of sharing His Gospel message. It is the Hope of the Gospel. I feel the Holy Spirit stirring my heart to lean into a season of sharing in intentional ways the good news of God's grace in His Son Jesus Christ. At two strategic points during the day I was able to listen to an hour of podcasts exclusively devoted to evangelism. 

Father God, use me to share Your Gospel. Bring me and my church into a season of focusing in on evangelism. In Jesus name, Amen.


Strengthen the things that remain...

Journal entry for Wednesday July 29, 2020

Throughout the day I had the words Jesus' message to the Church in Sardis which can be found in Revelation 3:1-6

        "Strengthen the things that remain..."

Last night our Deacon Chair and I spoke for about an hour over the phone about our current COVID-19 plan and our post COVID-19 plans of strengthening our church and continuing to minister to the Saints during these unprecedented times. We also spoke about the Hope of the Gospel and our part in being the Church both together & for our community. In Jesus' exhortation to the Church in Sardis many pertinent applications can be drawn but I will leave that for another time. At the moment He, that is Jesus, has made it plain to me how to both pray and lead. To do the work of strengthening the things that remain. 

Father, God, I look to You for this work of strengthening your Church. Use me as an instrument of peace as I serve as Pastor at Central Baptist Church in Lowesville, Va. I pray that You would move in our church in a mighty way and that souls will be saved.  May signs & wonders increase. Let it be. In Jesus Name, I pray, Amen.

Tuesday's with Pastor Gary

Journal entry for Tuesday July 28, 2020

Looking back over the day I am reminded of God's goodness and presence. In the morning hours I was able to visit a parishioner and meet with another one at the church. At 2:00 pm I tuned in to watch our Governor speak. Thankfully we are still able to congregate as a church. We are still in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak and he gives guidelines about every other week. This week the directives did not affect our area of the state. 

A verse on my heart today was from some words of Jesus about overcoming:

        "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. ."

No trouble we face is beyond our God's ability to carry us through and to provide peace during the process!

Feeling grateful,

Pastor Gary

Monday, July 27, 2020

Journal entry for Monday July 27, 2020

It was a great day! I did some visitation in the morning and worked at the church in the afternoon. For some reason a verse Exodus 33 crossed my mind,

    "15 And he said, if Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." 

While I have never formally preached a sermon from this narrative found in Exodus 33, about twenty years ago I did share verse 15 as part of an opening devotional for an association meeting for churches in North Georgia. It is a great verse to claim. 

For my current charge as Pastor at Central Baptist Church in Lowesville,Virginia I invoke this verse once again as a prayer to God to secure His continued presence. 

Thank You Father for Your presence,

Pastor Gary   


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Sermon Text: Acts 19:21-41



Journal entry for Sunday, July 26, 2020

I enjoyed the day with church in the morning and pastoral visitations in the afternoon. For several weeks we have been studying the book of Acts. Today's text was Acts 19:21-41. I enjoyed preaching form this narrative. Next Sunday we will be covering Acts 20:1-12. 

The evening was pleasant. 

Thankful, I am...

Pastor G. 

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Setting Priorities



Journal entry for Friday July 24, 2020

The day was off to a great start with waking up at 5:00 am for reading and prayer. In fact, that's how most every day begins. I am a morning person. It's when I get my best work done. This was not always the case. Up until my mid-forties I found mornings to be difficult and one day that changed. All of a sudden, just like that, I became a morning person. So, moving forward, I may forgo including it in each post. Instead, I think I may focus on my spiritual/pastoral/Biblical/life-purpose/random/therapeutic thoughts for the day. 

Today my thoughts were very clear. It was a peaceful day with periods of being intentionally mindful of each moment, noticing each breath, appreciating the day. Staying close to my priorities. To help with this, I focused in on a verse: 

"Therefore my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain." 
                    
                                                                                            I Corinthians 15:58

Wow, what a way to live life intentionally. Not giving up. 

Pastor Gary

Tenacity



Journal entry for Thursday, July 23, 2020

Looking back over the day I realize what a blessed day it was! I woke up a 5:00 am to get some reading in. I composed a past due blog journal entry, fed the chickens, said good morning to my wife and daughter, and then headed to the church for morning prayer. 

By lunch I had managed to get some research about "purpose" complete. In the afternoon I finally decided what hymns to sing for worship on Sunday. I then promptly emailed them to our pianist, guitarist, and to our AV technician. The of the day was routine with a mixture of counseling and studying.

In my studies about purpose I came across lots of great data but I'll sign off with this adage. 

    "The tree does not fall with the first stroke." 

This of course assumes the person is using an axe instead of a chainsaw...  But the point is to face the tasks of the day knowing that often times what is required is tenacity. Hanging in there until the purpose is realized. 

Persevering on purpose I am,

Pastor Gary

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Thinking Sunday thoughts

Journal entry for Wednesday, July 22, 2020

It was a good day. I was able to spend a few hours in late afternoon working on getting current with my blogging journal. That gave me such a feeling of accomplishment. I also managed to get some intentional Bible based reading and study in. My sermon this Sunday will be about Purpose. Living one's life on purpose or from a place of being mindful of one's purpose in life. The passage I will be covering is Acts 19:21 through the end of the chapter. In the narrative there are to opposing purposes being played out, one driven by concern for self and the other from a place of living life with God's purposes in mind. I pray for God to empower me to preach this message. May His will be done always in my ministry as pastor at Central Baptist Church in Lowesville, Virginia. 

We hosted the CBC Small Group in the evening. We enjoyed tacos as we studied together. I actually arrived late but was in time to take part. It was a good day.

Pastor Gary

Remain calm & utilize humor as a coping skill

Journal entry for Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Today was a challenge at times but I endured and was able to meet those challenges with calmness and even laughter. 

I woke up with a to-do-list of the many things I needed to get done in preparation for hosting the Wednesday night small group Bible study. 

I was off and running after getting back from morning prayers at the church. I pressure washed the front porch and did some yard work. Around 2:00 pm I decided to make a trash-run with my old truck. It's a 1977 F100. It has seen its better years so we just use it to haul trash to the local dumpster. However, the dump site is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I decided to drive to a new one the county recently opened. I had heard they were open every day. 

I loaded the truck and took off. The gas gauge doesn't work well but I just knew I had enough to make it to Ogden's Store which is near the new dump site. I cut through some side roads to save time only to be stopped by a paving crew. They were surface treating the road. I was stopped on a hill and after waiting about five minutes I had to turn the engine off to save fuel. 

When the pilot truck showed up for us to follow I cranked my truck. It only made it about fifty feet before running out of gas! I took it with ease and was able to get my son to bring the can of gas I had at home which I had been using for the pressure washer. 

Before long I was on my way. I stopped at Ogden's to fill my truck up and then headed for the dumpster. When I got there they were closed! Somewhat frustrated I  decided to drive into Amherst to get a couple bales of straw. 

Upon getting to the outdoors store I learned they only take cash for straw. I rarely carry cash and currently didn't have any so I turned around and drove to the ATM. After leaving the bank my truck started acting up. It must have shut off thirty times before stalling for good in front of the high school. 

Again, I was amazed at my calmness. I simply called AAA and had it towed to a garage, trash and all. Because of COVID-19 I was not allowed to hitch a ride with the AAA towing service. So my wife came by to pick me up. In all, a trip to the dumpster and Amherst which should have only taken an hour ended up taking four hours! On the way home I was able to utilize humor to explain the entire fiasco to my wife. 



The life lessons from the day were: Make sure my trash truck stays full of gas, call before assuming the dumpster is open, and always carry some cash. And if the unexpected still occurs, act with calmness and apply humor if appropriate! At the end of the day I was able to reflect and thank God for His many blessings. 

Until next time,

Pastor Gary

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Working from Home



Journal entry for Monday, July 20, 2020

A pleasant Monday. Because it was so hot out I worked from my home office. To turn the AC units down for the entire church building just to cool my church office seemed like a bad plan. 

I did meet with one parishioner later in the day for a counseling appointment but it wasn't so hot then.

It was another enjoyable day in ministry.

Sunday, July 19, 2020 at Central Baptist Church in Lowesville, VA

Journal entry for Sunday, July 19, 2020 at Central Baptist Church in Lowesville, VA

A typical Sunday of Pastoral Ministry. I got to the church early to turn the AC units down but it was not early enough. I will crank them down  next Saturday evening to ensure that the sanctuary will be a little cooler. Other than that snafu the day was filled with God's presence. We continued our study in the Book of Acts.

In the afternoon, some of us went to Panther Falls to cool off. It was so refreshing!

The evening was pleasant.

 

Serene Saturday



Journal entry for Saturday, July 18, 2020

It was a quiet and routine Saturday comprised of wrapping up a few ministry things before Sunday. The picture is of hay being baled at church. I thank God for the man who does this for the church. 

Feeling grateful,

Pastor Gary

Meals on Wheels



Journal entry for Friday, July 17, 2020

I woke up extra early to get some sermon prep and prayer in before running a few errands in town. Meals on Wheels was today. I am thankful for and proud of our parishioners for serving in this way. It is such a great ministry. 

I was able to get some residency hours in before heading home for the evening. 

It was another pleasant day.

Cheers,

Pastor Gary

Towards getting current with my ministry notes...



Journal entry for Thursday, July 16, 2020

I set the alarm on my watch for 5:00 am so I could work on my blog entries (Something I am lagging behind on) before facing the day. With this said, if you take a look at when I post my journal entries. you will note this. It is something that plagues people who are in the helping professions. By this I mean documentation. 

The part of serving others is fun but keeping up with notes is not so fun. There's a saying, "If it was not documented, it did not happen." It's part of the reason for the uptick in my blog posts. Sure, I keep  a personal journal and a daily planner/appointment book but for best practice in ministry, I feel that my congregation deserves somewhat of a daily sketch of my daily routines of ministry and professional practices. 

Like I shared in an earlier post, looking back over my last ten years as Pastor at Central Baptist Church in Lowesville, Va... I wish I had documented better! So... I am trying today to get current on my notes. I think I can do this...

Endeavoring to get current I am...

Pastor Gary


Live Life from a Deep Place

Journal entry for Wednesday, July 15, 2020 

A quiet day comprised of early morning prayers at the church, meeting with clients, and focused study. 

It was also hot out but that is to be expected for mid-July. 

Today, I spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on God's goodness & favor. I am thankful for the calling to serve as a pastor in my community. It is my life purpose. Rainer Maria Rilke, the 19th century German poet, once wrote to a young poet,

"live life from a deep place." "Only then," Rilke said, would his writing become great. 



I believe that when we discover our life-purpose and live life from that deep place, we can face each day with a unique power to act. 

Blessings,

Pastor Gary Anderson
Central Baptist Church
Lowesville, Va

Showing enterprise on a Tuesday in Lowesville, Va

Journal entry for Tuesday, July 14, 2020

I woke up at 4:45 am to get some reading and prayer time in before heading to the church where I met with a colleague from 8:30 am - 10:45 am. I took a fifteen minute break and then worked nonstop until leaving my church office at around 2:45 pm. 

The evening was peaceful. 

Pastor Gary



Monday in the Parrish

Journal entry for Monday July 13, 2020 

I was off to an early start for the week comprised of early morning prayers, feeding the church cats, and errands in Amherst. I made the most of my driving time by returning and making a few phone calls. 

I worked from my home office for the afternoon mostly planning the church service and doing some sermon prep. It was a productive day of pastoral ministry. 

Pastor Gary


Gideon's Presentation

Journal entry for Sunday, July 12, 2020

I woke up at 5:50 am (Late for a Sunday). I managed to get the door on time the door on time though. I composed a Facebook post for the church's public page and then got some things ready for the worship service. 

I was a great service! A parishioner who is a Gideon gave a wonderful presentation and we took an offering up. I preached a short sermon from Acts chapter 19:1-10. 

In the afternoon we went out to celebrate my daughter's Birthday! Some friends joined us. 

The evening was spent relaxing at home. I did some reflecting and thanked God for the day. The Gideon presentation, the great lunch, and for God's blessings. 

Pastor Gary


A productive day in Lowesville

Journal entry for Saturday July 11, 2020

Early morning I needed to go into Lynchburg early for a Pastoral visit so I left extra early so I could go by the church for morning prayer. The cats were glad to see me so early!

I made it back to my church office at 11:30 am where I worked until 7:30 pm.

The evening was quiet and peaceful.

Signing off,

Pastor Gary


Today I will encourage others, work hard, and practice gratitude



Journal entry for Friday July 10, 2020

I love waking up early to read and study  and to reflect on the freshness of a new day with all its possibilities. Things like encouraging others, working hard, and practicing gratitude. Every day is an opportunity to practice such disciplines. 

The day was filled with counselling and periods of intentional studying and prayer. I also made some phone calls and answered a few emails, all of which were opportunities to encourage others. 

Feeling Thankful,

Pastor Gary Anderson

Lowesville, Va 



  

Reading Days



Journal entry for Thursday, July 9, 2020

I awoke just before 5:00 am so I could get some reading and Bible studly in before dropping by the church for morning prayer and to feed the church cats. 

The day was peaceful with periods of focused reading and sermon prep.

I arrived home later than usual due to a couple stops. Overall it a great day. 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Celebrating a Birthday!


                                            Me, my wife & Bethany 


Journal entry for Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Today is my oldest daughter's Birthday! Since it has fallen during the work-week we have plans for Sunday lunch with all the family. She turns 28 years-old this afternoon around 5:30 pm. Wow! Where has the time gone? I remember it like yesterday. Being at the hospital with my wife, not knowing what to do... I was so young. So inexperienced with life. Yet, whether or not I was ready, I was about to welcome my first child, a precious daughter, into this world that we all currently call home. It all worked out! She was born and we named her after the little white church my wife and I were married in. 

Our family has come a long way since that July afternoon in that delivery room in North East Georgia. My daughter is all grown up now. She is a registered Dental Hygienist (RDH), owns her own house, and has a six -year-old son she calls her "Minnie-Me! Life is good!  

Looking back over the last 28 years, I realize I have also changed. I've experienced a lot of life, the good, the challenging, but mostly the good stuff. I'm a Christ follower, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a pastor, a resident in counseling in State of Virginia, and a huge Star Wars fanatic! 

In closing, I want to take a moment to write about the part of being a counselor in residency. As a bi-vocational pastor in a rural country church, I have always needed to supplement my church income. For years I worked many entry level jobs to make ends meet, the most rewarding of which was five years at Sweet Briar College as a safety officer and then as an inn keeper (Front desk clerk). During those years I managed to finish a graduate degree (MA in Professional Counseling). With the degree work now complete, I have two years of residency to do before sitting for my state boards. I have just recently started residency with a local CSB where I work as crisis stabilization clinician in a residential 3.5 level men's rehab. It's such a peaceful environment and many moments throughout the day I find time to work on my sermon, call/email/text/parishioners or simply get some pastoral reading and reflection time in. And the moments I am in the milieu with the guys, it is as if I am being their pastor or even dad to the ones who are younger. Suffice it to say, my pastoral ministry flows well with my residency hours and vice versa. Both my parishioners and my clients benefit. In other words, my training as a pastor and my training as a counselor are portable and useful to both trades. I could go on but I think I have written enough for today. 

Blessings for today & for many more July 8-ths!!! 

Pastor/Therapist, Dad, Gary (AKA-YODA)

Friday, July 17, 2020

Quiet for a Tuesday


Journal entry for Tuesday, July 7, 2020

It was a quiet day in Lowesville. I woke up at 5:50 am, later than I preferred but it was still early enough to get a few things done before heading out for another day of pastoral ministry. Before leaving the house, I composed a journal entry and did a couple other things on my to-do list. I dropped by the church for my regular pastor’s morning routine of prayer & checking on the church cats. The rest of the morning was comprised of errands and a meeting in Lynchburg. I was able to get back to my church office by 1:00 pm where I worked until 5:00 pm. The evening included quiet time at home. Thus concluded another day as Pastor of Central Baptist Church in Lowesville, VA. 


Thursday, July 16, 2020

A Change of Routine


Journal entry for Monday, July 6, 2020 

It was a bit of a change of schedule for a Monday. But I was up for it! I dropped by the church for morning prayers and to feed the church cats before heading into Lynchburg for a meeting. On the way back to Lowesville I ran some errands. I made good time because I was able to get to my church office by 10:00 am. I worked on my sermon and left the church at 5:00 pm. On the way home I dropped in to visit a parishioner for a bi-weekly check-in. The evening was pleasant. I was able to get some reading and Bible study in as well as a couple church Facebook posts.

Looking back over the day with its change of routine, I recalled how I approached that change of schedule:

I am a proponent of keeping a consistent schedule. I have found that routines s are powerful and have grounding effects. However, changing them up once and a while can help us to build new neuro pathways. Almost like going on an exploration. When doing so, it is important to practice mindfulness. Moreover, being intentional so as not to miss the Lord’s purpose as well as to make the best use of time. It made me think of Ephesians 5:15-16

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (ESV)

Overall, it was another pleasant day in the parish.

With gratitude,

Pastor Gary

Central Baptist Church

Lowesville, VA


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Ahead of Schedule



Journal entry for Monday, July 6, 2020

I started my day at 5:50 am with coffee and reading. After going by the church for morning prayers I headed into Lynchburg for some errands. I made it to my church office just before 10:00 am. It was a full day there working on my sermon and taking care of some emails. I finished my work at church at 5:00 pm. On the way home I dropped in to visit an older parishioner who has not been able to come to church because COVID-19 precautions. It was a good visit. 

When I arrived home I composed a video post for our private working Facebook page as well as another one for Central Baptist Church's public Facebook page. I was filming the posts as I was on my evening walk in the woods when I happened upon our old tree stand. Wow! I had not been up in that old stand in over ten years! I climbed it as I was filming and finished the posts sitting in the stand :) 

When I got back to the house I noticed my wife had completed the church bulletins! She usually works on the bulletins throughout the week with me adding things here and there... But since my sermon was complete and the hymns were picked out, she went ahead and finalized it. It felt good to have everything ready, well in advance. Sometimes it works out like that in life. When projects are wrapped up ahead of schedule, a certain freedom sets in.  I could go on but I have lots of writing to catch up on...


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Holy Communion in Lowesville, Va at Central Baptist Church


Sunday, July 5th 2020

It was a great day at Central Baptist Church in Lowesville, Va! We observed Holy Communion together. Attendance was up from the previous couple weeks. I enjoyed sharing from Romans chapter 12. My sermon title was, "Dedicated Service." God's presence was very encouraging and parishioners offered kind words regarding my sermon. It was a good Sunday. 

In the afternoon, I took my youngest daughter with me to conduct Pastoral Home Visitations. In the evening I was able to get some Bible study in before retiring for the evening. 

Independence Day in Lowesville, Va


Saturday, July 4th 2020

It was a quiet morning in the parish. I spent the morning at my church office going over my sermon one last time and answering emails. I also devoted some time to spend in prayer for the Sunday service. 

The afternoon was spent with parishioners at a 4th of July celebration. I thank God for my congregation. They practice hospitality on a grand scale! A fun time was had by all.  

Being Kind to Our Future Selves


Journal entry for Friday, July 3, 2020

We got back from VA Beach late last Thursday, July 2nd. We wanted to get back a day early so we could have some time to transition back into our ordinary routine. Building in that margin allowed us time to unpack, wash clothes, and get things put away. But more importantly, it was about being kind to our future selves. Had we just rushed back home only to then rush back into our ordinary routine of working and moving about, our bodies, minds, and spirits would have paid the price. It's much like preparing the coffee pot the night before instead of waking up to the task. 

Planning ahead is a Biblical concept. Proverbs 27:12 says, "The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it." (ESV)

I hadn't always understood this concept. When I was in my early twenties, I recall always rushing about making coffee at the last minute only to rush out the door for work. In those days, you could've called me "last-minute-Gary. Thankfully over time I figured out small ways of being kind to my future self by doing small tasks each day to prepare the future. 

I could write more but suffice it to say that building in an extra day for transitioning back into my duties of being a Pastor made all the difference.