I don’t post a whole lot of personal notes, mainly because I live a pretty boring life. I have no interest in posting my choice of breakfast foods on Facebook. Again: boring. And unlike Edward Fudge, I can’t announce the 20 different churches in 20 different denominations where I’ll be speaking. So posting much of anything just makes me feel so, you know, inadequate.
But since I’m not going to post anything on Facebook other than these blog post things, I figure I’d may as well catch people up. Let’s see.
This morning’s church service was truly memorable. We combined services so we could commission our new missionaries — Craig and Merschon Hutson — for their new mission to Ireland and to celebrate with Albert and Lavinia Cook their first 10 years of service in Romania.
One of the elders interviewed the Cooks about their service. The church read a series of covenants with the Hutsons, who responded with a covenant with the church, for mutual support and encouragement for their mission. We’d done something similar for the Cooks a decade ago.
We had a seventh grade girl come forward to be baptized, brought by her friend, another seventh grade girl who’d only recently been baptized. This girl came without her family, and so when she came forward, she was supported by a bevy of middle school girls. It was truly touching to see a brand new Christian bringing an unchurched friend to Jesus — and it was in large part because she’d seen the impact of the church on the life of her parents. Powerful stuff.
Logan Thrasher came forward to express thanks for the congregation’s support as they worked to adopt their twin girls. The babies had been born prematurely, had health struggles, and that, with the legal process, would have been overwhelming but for the love and encouragement of the congregation. Their small group did their yard work for them and painted their nursery while they were away as a surprise present. They were deluged with supportive phone calls and text messages. The adoption support group at church helped them along the way.
At the close of service, the congregation surrounded the two missionary families and we laid hands on and prayed for them.
We had no classes, but instead had a reception for the congregation to meet with and speak to the missionaries, to make certain that as many as possible could develop a personal connection with them.
It was an incredible service — deeply moving and very powerful in more ways than I can express in words. So now I’m trying to figure out how we can commission a new missionary every week …
Meanwhile, my wife, Denise, is flying to Boston to help our son Jonathan and daughter-in-law Erin move there. Jonathan has just graduated from Miami with a masters of law in taxation to work in the international tax office of Ernst and Young, CPAs — which is a great fit for him, I think. Erin hopes to work for Massachusetts General Hospital in pediatric cardio-intensive care — very specialized stuff.
They join my oldest son, Chris, there, who is part of a church plant, so even though they’ll live forever away, at least it’s two visits for the price of one. Chris’s church planting group is working with Kairos to improve their effectiveness — and I’m very excited about the work.
Tyler, my third son, is at Auburn, where he is working on a chemical engineering degree. He plans to go to Georgia Tech to get a doctorate. His serious girlfriend is a graphics artist with a job already lined up in Atlanta.
Phillip, our youngest, is in the process of moving out the house to a rental house here in Tuscaloosa, and he will soon be a sophomore at Alabama, in computer science. He has a job doing coding for some of the professors there, three of whom are members of our church — making for a very nice situation. And, most importantly for a summer job in Tuscaloosa, it’s indoors! We are — once again — empty nesters.
Denise just returned from a weeklong mission trip to the Bahamas. My health doesn’t let me do that sort of thing, but one of my fellow elders went — and I’ve been enjoying hearing the stories. The Bahamas trip is a dual-purpose trip, working with an orphanage there and supporting a nearby Church of Christ by doing a VBS program for them. Our members have been frustrated at the the Bahamian government, which won’t let them adopt any children from the orphanage — which is quite pitiful. But one of the boys just turned old enough to come to the US, where he lives with one of our couples as a son.
This year, the local Church of Christ worked very hard in support of the VBS program and is preparing to follow up with visitors — there were many — and build on the hard work. It was a very encouraging trip. Several teenagers went on the trip. It’s an adult mission that the adults would do whether or not in the mission budget. But inclusion in the mission budget frees up enough money to bring several teenagers, who work hard the whole trip and get to learn that adults have a passion for Jesus that opens their hearts to orphans and mission work in foreign lands. In fact, the elder who went on the trip taught a class of teenagers and had our teenagers gave testimony explaining why they were Christians and why they’d come to the Bahamas to do mission work. I’m told the Bahamian teens who were there were riveted.
Rumors to contrary notwithstanding, the Bahamas mission trip is no vacation. They work “from can to can’t,” as they say around here. It’s exhausting.
Family Notes such as these bless my soul! Never fear to share such moments and blessings with all of us.
Thanks for sharing. On a selfish note, would you mind sending the details (words) of a typical covenant with your missionaries? I have been asked to draft one up for a similar but different situation (short term missions). I'm curious of writing style and content.
Craig and Merschon are great people. I am so glad you are able to partner with them in spreading the gospel! If you see them send them my greetings.
I echo Jerry; for me, the greatest improvement you could make to your blog would be to make it slightly more personal at times. You are the most believable/trustworthy whenever we realize that you are a human.
Selfishly, I am a biz guy too so I'd enjoy seeing you post more on Christianity as it relates to secular business (I doubt you'll like the term 'secular business'). You'd have tremendous wisdom to pull from with your life experience in this regard. Think about it — you've got good thoughts regarding eldering and you've only done that for a handful of years. You've probably got over 30yrs experience at being a Christian biz leader. Anyway, that's me staring down the gift-horse.
–I enjoyed tremendous laughter whenever I saw that one of your sons attends Auburn, LOL.
–What's up with you health? You kinda snuck that in when referencing your wife…if it isn't too personal, let us know so we can pray for you.
thanks, jay, for the family update. i'm with those fellers who enjoy the personal touch to the blog. it's great to hear a little about your family — makes you more "real."
i'm praying for you and your family. may God continue to bless you, so that you may continue to bless others.
Rich W —
Covenant of the Church
As the senders, called by God, we seek to honor Him with our lives of service, and thereby bear witness to His perfect love and grace offered to the world through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We draw these covenants with Craig and Merschon Hutson to mark and specify the nature of our relationships within the body of Christ.
As your sending church:
We will encourage Craig & Merschon to LOVE the LORD above and before all else.
We will PRAY for Craig & Merschon and their marriage.
We will PRAY for their team and families.
We will PRAY for the mission to Ireland and for the lost.
We will CELEBRATE God's lordship over Craig & Merschon, our church, and the mission.
We will REMIND Craig & Merschon to protect their WITNESS.
We will SEEK guidance from the Holy Spirit in our oversight of Craig & Merschon.
We will PROVIDE financial support for Craig & Merschon.
We will INITIATE regular and spiritual conversations with Craig & Merschon.
We will ENCOURAGE regular and spiritual conversations about these covenants.
We will ENCOURAGE regular and spiritual conversations with your supporting individuals and your families.
COVENANTS OF MISSIONARIES
As the sent, called by God, we seek to honor Him with our lives of service, and thereby bear witness to His perfect love and grace offered to the world through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We draw these covenants with University Church of Christ to mark and specify the nature of our relationships within the body of Christ.
As missionaries sent by University Church of Christ:
We will encourage each other to love the LORD above and before all else.
We will PRAY without ceasing.
We will READ God's word daily.
We will express our GRATITUDE to God and to you.
We will CELEBRATE God's SOVEREIGNTY over our lives, the lost, and the mission.
We will REMIND each other to protect the WITNESS.
We will GUARD against impurity.
We will GUARD against pride and self-reliance.
We will GUARD against greed and selfishness.
We will GUARD against distractions and procrastination.
We will PROTECT each other and our marriage.
We will PRAY for University Church of Christ.
We will be ACCOUNTABLE to you.
We will LISTEN to you and SUBMIT to your spiritual guidance.
We will practice good STEWARDSHIP of the support you provide.
We will INITIATE regular and spiritual conversations with you.
We will ENCOURAGE regular and spiritual conversations about these covenants.
We will INITIATE regular and spiritual conversations with our supporting individuals and our families.
I couldn't find a font small enough for the "Auburn."
It's a genetic thing. He was born loving tigers and insisting on wearing orange. You know, it's the whole nature vs. nurture thing. We could see the writing on the wall from his nursery years, but we prayed it would be Clemson. (Go Dabo!)
(And Auburn has an excellent chemical engineering department — and one of the best campus ministries in the country.)
Health thing is psoriatic arthritis — not disfiguring and controlled by medicine. Doesn't affect work, doesn't keep me from traveling, and so far hasn't kept me from pounding a keyboard. Just prevents anything very physically strenuous.
Yes, rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, I'm real. At least, I feel real to me. But there are those who disagree.
And so I'll try to post a few more personal things. But I'm not posting what I had for breakfast. Or pictures of kittens. Not even for my daughter-in-law (who loves kittens).
Jay, we have something in common — "wayward" kids who went to AU, and into Chem Eng., despite all the Roll Tide indoctrination from birth. LOL
Now I understand the current connotation of a covenant. A brother asked me to propose one for a partnership with a Christian school in Haiti. I only knew the term as the bible version of a contract. That sounded too business-like. I like this much better.