What is the greatest gift you have ever received?

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During the Children’s Sermon this past Sunday, I asked “what is the greatest gift you have ever received?” I fully expected to hear a myriad of answers about video games and Shopkins and skateboards and American Girl Dolls and basketball hoops and hatchimals. If I were to have been asked that question when I was a kid, I would have raised my hand… (scratch that. I wouldn’t have raised my hand; I would have blurted out my answer with no regard to proper decorum. This was my biggest struggle growing up. I always had something to say! I know, I know - you are reading this and thinking to yourself, ‘so, what’s changed!?’) … If I were to have been asked that question when I was a kid, I would have just started talking, excitedly telling you about the letter from Santa that my brother and I discovered under the tree on Christmas morning when I was 7 years old. Santa left a letter to inform us that one of our Christmas presents was too big to fit inside the house. We ran as fast as possible to the backyard to discover the best. present. ever. - A TRAMPOLINE!

Maybe I should have given our amazing RBC Kids more credit and expected that they were already picking up what I was putting down by asking this question. Without any hesitation one of our beloved kids answered, “The greatest gift I have ever received was when Jesus came into my heart!”

Preach, preacher! Isn’t Jesus the greatest gift we all have received? We can learn a thing or two from the youngest disciples in our church!

The sun had barely come up on that Christmas morning, and the outdoor temperature was barely above freezing, but I ran outside to jump on my brand-spanking-new-Santa’s-sleigh-delivered trampoline. Barely stopping my bounce, I leapt from the trampoline, and ran back inside our house, picked up the phone to call some of my neighborhood friends to invite them over to share the joy of my amazing Christmas gift. In my 7-year-old mind, it was the best gift I had ever received and I couldn’t wait to share it with my friends.

What would happen if we were as excited about sharing the gift of Jesus with others as I was about my trampoline? How would our lives change if we couldn’t wait to share the Greatest Gift with as many people as possible? To keep this gift to ourselves and not share it freely and passionately would be an injustice to the Gift and the Giver. 

So, what is the greatest gift you have ever received? With whom will you share it?

 

Jesus Loves Me

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A few weeks ago we took the girls to the playground at the Royston Wellness and Community Park. While there, my mom captured a video (which I posted to Facebook) of Adeline singing “Jesus Loves Me.” After watching the video of Adeline’s song, a friend and fellow minister texted me. 

Thanks for sharing that video of Adeline. Sometimes I get so busy making sure other people know Jesus loves them that I forget he loves me, too.

I love watching this video over and over, because, well, she is so cute, but more than that, I keep watching it because sometimes, just like my friend, I need to be reminded of this simple, yet profound truth. Jesus loves me.

Jesus loves ME. No matter what. 

Jesus’ love doesn’t color inside the lines; rather, Jesus loves like splatter paint! The love of Jesus is extravagant! 

Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more…and grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. - Philip Yancey

In the innocence of my daughter’s song I am reminded of my need to trust in this simple, yet profound truth:

 

Jesus loves me—this I know,

For the Bible tells me so;

Little ones to him belong,

They are weak, but he is strong.

 

Yes! Jesus loves me!

Yes! Jesus loves me!

Yes! Jesus loves me!

The Bible tells me so.

So, if you need a little reminder of Jesus’ love for you, check out the video of Adeline - I posted it to the Royston Baptist Church Facebook Page!

-William

 

Strong and Functioning Well

Sunday morning following the announcements, the search committee reported that the pastoral candidate they were so excited about would no longer be a candidate. I was as disappointed as you were. However, we can be comforted in the assurance that our Lord has the individual that will be best suited for our church. Furthermore, I’m convinced He will continue leading our search committee to that individual. As I told the congregation Sunday, “You are stuck with me for a few more months.” I am blessed to be apart of this wonderful church and will continue to serve you to the best of my ability. Please keep the search committee and me in your prayers.          

The state of this church is strong and functioning well. That was most evident this past Saturday, when forty plus folks worked at being God’s  hands in various areas throughout our community. We cleaned a home, raked leaves at another, and built a dog house for another. We visited our home bound and folks in assisted living facilities. Our children made crafts and carried them to those folks. The fellowship generated in those work areas was amazing. We certainly were ministering to our Jerusalem! Invite your friends and neighbors to come and worship with us and “Catch the Spirit”.             

Looking forward to seeing you Sunday!

Hugh

Local Missions

At the conclusion of Luke’s gospel, Jesus addresses his disciples one last time before ascending into Heaven. His words to them: “take the message of repentance and salvation to the entire world—beginning in Jerusalem “. That message is our marching orders today! Our Jerusalem is Royston, GA.

The Mission Committee of our church for the past years has located special needs in our community where we can serve as God’s messengers. This year’s Mission Blitz is scheduled for April 14th from 8:00am—12:00 noon.

We need team members to do the following tasks: (1) yard work at two different locations, (2) a team to do house cleaning, (3) a team to visit our home bound and members in assisted living facilities, (4) a team for childcare. This team will assist the children with craft projects that will be delivered to folks in area care facilities, and finally (5) a team to prepare lunch for all to enjoy when we assemble back at the church at 12:00 noon.

I urge you to come and be a part of this mission effort. There is a team waiting for you!

This work could not be done without the wonderful leadership of our mission committee: Dana Esco, Jina Harris, Kristen Harris, Colleen Phillips and Ryan Swails. When you see one of these members please thank them for their hard work and planning—better still, sign up to be a part of this mission experience. Sign-up sheets are on the bulletin board next to the church library.

Do yourself proud!

Hugh

A Training Church

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I have been a member of Royston Baptist Church since 2004. Throughout these fourteen years there has been one theme that surfaces often. It goes like this, “Why is it that we get young pastors and train them up only to have them move on to bigger churches?”  I’m hearing that now as we search for a new pastor. I have a perspective on that. I want to share it with you.

I served three large congregations as an Associate Pastor- Minister of Education. I worked with three outstanding Senior Pastors. I learned much from each of those men. However, when I went to my first Church as pastor, I was a freshman pastor.  It takes a special congregation to shepherd a freshman pastor regardless of his or her experience.  As my years increased in that church I learned that most of the pastors that preceded me were also freshman pastors. That congregation understood and accepted its mission as as being a great starting place for freshman pastors. They too watched them grow and earn Doctors degrees. Those churches are rare indeed.

From my perspective our church is one of “those” churches. Last week I looked into our history. In the 136 years we have been serving this area, the average length of our Pastors stay has been 4.6 years. We have been the training ground from which greatness has an opportunity to develop. While we all hurt when a loved pastor leaves us. We must change our perspective and see just how much God has used us for the betterment of His Kingdom.

Come on young Pastor and inherit the legacy from which greatness can occur!

In Love,

Dr. Hugh Kirby

What Does a Pastor Do?

We learned at the close of the service this past Sunday that our Search Committee has narrowed its search to two candidates. We must continue to pray for our committee as they do the task of finding God’s person for our church.      

I was going through a large collection of clippings recently and found one that I want to share with you. I believe it is appropriate as we look forward to a new pastor in the coming months.

What Does a Pastor Do?

"The pastor teaches, though he must solicit his own classes. He heals, though without pills or knife. He is sometimes a lawyer, often a social worker, something of an editor, a bit of a philosopher and entertainer, a salesman, a decorative piece for public functions, and he is supposed to be a scholar. He visits the sick, marries people, buries the dead, labors to console those who sorrow and to admonish those who sin, and tries to stay sweet when chided for not doing his duty. He plans programs, appoints committees when he can get them; spend considerable time in keeping people out of each other’s hair; between times he prepares a sermon and preaches it on Sunday to those who don’t happen to have any other engagement. Then on Monday he smiles when some jovial chap roars, what a job--one day a week!"

Always, Dr. Hugh Kirby

 

Perspective

On four different occasions, our son and I have canoed the Boundary Waters between Canada and the USA. Those trips have filled our memories with a lifetime of experiences. Each one added something to the previous experience. 

Our first experience was the most remembered. We were certainly novices in all things Boundary Waters. We had prepared ourselves as thoroughly as possible. We did our homework on food, fishing, camping, bear-proofing, and safety. 

So when we set out from Moose Lake outside of Ely, Minnesota we were ready for an all day paddle of nearly forty miles. Our goal was the South Arm of Knife Lake. We had gone over and over our maps making sure to mark the various portages to ensure a safe journey to our chosen campsite. 

As we pushed off from the outfitters dock we headed toward the far end of Moose Lake. We hit our rhythm after half an hour and were ready for the long haul. We could see the end of the Lake and all we had to do was look out for the portage. The closer we got to the end of the lake we began to realize that what we were looking at was not the end of the lake but a very large island. 

That was the first of many experiences when our perspective would change. At the beginning of our trip we were certain we were looking at the end of Moose Lake. 

Everything we do in life is from a particular perspective and if we wish to grow as a christian and as a person, we must be willing to change our perspective. How do we change our perspective you ask? Being open to God’s leadership through His Holy Spirit!

-Dr. Hugh Kirby

Happy New Year!

 Dr. Hugh Kirby

Dr. Hugh Kirby

I have always approached the new year with mixed feelings. Sometimes I have written down my list of new year resolutions and watched in disbelief as each one eventually went by the wayside. At other times I have limited myself to one simple or one difficult new lifestyle change for the coming year. That too found it’s way into the drink! So you see, I have been good at making attempts at setting goals to accomplish for the coming new year. However, I’ve not been so good at maintaining those goals.    We should not fault ourselves for not keeping the resolutions. If we don’t strive for the goals, we certainly won’t reach any. So, this year I have decided to look for inspiring words that will hopefully open up new opportunities for personal growth. These words are not my own, but I want to share them with you. 

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You are doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you are Doing Something.” -Neil Gaiman.    

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one”. -Brad Paisley         

Everything about the future is uncertain, but one thing is for sure. God has already planned our tomorrows, we just have to trust Him today. I wish a beautiful tomorrow for each of you.

Find your wilderness

 Dr. Hugh Kirby

Dr. Hugh Kirby

Everywhere I go these days I run into someone who talks about being so busy. I know, it’s the time of the year when we must purchase that last gift or wrap all the purchased ones. There is preparation to be done in anticipation of the family getting together. We truly are loaded down with “to do” lists. It just seems to be the norm to be busier at Christmas with each passing year.       

I’m not inferring that we should change all the things that cause us to be busy. I just want to sound a note for finding some time in this busy season for “being still” or gearing down and catching our breath or being alone with our Lord. For me it is finding time for solitude.      

Throughout my life I have made it my habit to structure my time where I have solitude.  My go to place for quiet and solitude has been the wilderness. My favorite wilderness place is the woods and streams. In fact, when I have been faced with major decisions or struggling with difficulty, walking in some wilderness has been the correct medicine for me. Psalm 46:10 is my go to verse for scripture verse “be still (or quiet) and know that I am God”.

I do hope that you can find your wilderness place this Christmas season and reflect on the birth of our Lord.

Will you keep Christmas?

 Dr. Hugh Kirby

Dr. Hugh Kirby

From time to time you come across a simple story that causes your heart and mind to race with understanding and excitement. One such story comes from Henry Van Dyke’s book entitled, The Spirit of Christmas. I want to share it with you.      There is a better thing than the observance of Christmas, and that is keeping Christmas. Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world;---to see that your fellowmen are just as real as you are, and to try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy;---to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness. 

Are you willing to do these things even for a day?  Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children; to remember the weakness, loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough; to trim your lamp so it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so your shadow will fall behind you;---are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world, stronger that hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death, and that the belessed life which began in Bethlem two thousand years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas. 

And if you keep it for a day, why not always?

The Church

Watching the world wake up recently, I was struck with the beauty of a spiders web. It was a large web and yet very intricate. The angle of the early morning light cast a glowing effect on the web. Then to my amazement, I began noticing other webs. Some were more traditional in shape, but the vast majority of the webs seemed to be single threads.       I was mesmerized. There were thousands and thousands of threads through out the forest. They appeared to be holding the entire forest together.   

My mind began thinking of the church. There are all kinds of folks who make up the structure of the church. some possess an influence that is large and intricate. Others are more traditional. Yet the vast majority of folks are like the single thread. They hold the whole thing together.   Our Lord has given each of us the needed ability to be used within our church so we can do the work He calls us to do.   It is my hope that together we can continue the work of those who have poured their hearts and souls into this part of God’s Kingdom. We have been blessed by the leadership we have followed. It is my intension to steer us on the course we have been following. 

I invite you to join me on this journey. It is an honor to be your interim pastor.