Archive for September, 2009

September 28, 2009

Monday September 28


Wow I’m exhausted. This past weekend was the most action-packed of my entire trip in the Northeast. I’ll go chronologically.

Friday: We had the bi-weekly study with Larry Bailey. It was tremendous! We looked at Philippians 3 and made several points from that chapter. But the biggest point I took away was: every member of the church started at the same place! Dead in sin and raised to walk a new life with Christ in baptism.
We had some visitors Friday night at the study…Bryana who visited Tuesday night came and brought her friend Karren. After the class Tim and myself went to dinner with them and learned more about where they are coming from. It was a great night!
Saturday: I got up at 4 am to drive to Mt. Marcy in the Adirondacks. I left at 4:30 and was on the trail at 7:03 am. I hiked 14 miles climbing over 3200 feet to an elevation of 5344 ft (the highest point in NY). It was absolutely gorgeous! Driving in and hiking through the mountains you see the different color of the leaves, but when you are standing on the summit the color is drowned out by the massive almost innumerable mountains. It may be the most amazing sight I have ever seen. It was amazing.
So I got back to Albany about 6:30 or so and headed over to Tia’s for dinner. Tia had visited with us on Tuesday night and wanted to have Tim and myself over before I left town–so we went. Tia had invited several of her friends: Bryana, Heidi, and Jenn. We had a great time. She cooked chicken terryaki and rice and steamed vegetables. It was just what I needed after being famished from the mountain. I was in bed by 10 pm and out like a lamp.
Sunday: We had a very large attendance on Sunday 20! Jack and Terry Boston who were traveling from Texas stopped in to worship with us. Bryana was back and she brought Karen for the first time to worship service. Tiara who’s a member here and her son were at services for the first time since I’ve been up here–so the brethren were thankful to see her. And then the usuals.
After services they had a going away potluck for me at Granville and Carmen Benton’s home. It was a great afternoon. I turned it into a southern potluck by stopping and getting fried chicken =). But it was a great afternoon. The brethren were so nice and I just appreciated those who came to wish me farewell.
I am one week away from being back in Atlanta. As the plan stands I will be in NYC with Tim Bunting on Wednesday and Thursday. I will be with Scott Smelser and his family Friday through Sunday at Gettysburg and leave early Monday morning in hopes of being back in time for the gospel meeting on Monday night.
It is going to be a wild week ahead. Please continue to pray for me. I know you guys have been and I greatly appreciate all the help.
Hope all is well wherever you are.
God bless,
Wes
p.s. here are the pictures from Mt. Marcy if you’d like to look at them http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=42835913&l=10ad2d0027&id=7003632
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September 25, 2009

Friday September 25

Tim and myself have been busy soaking up God’s creation! It’s been terrific, but it’s been my toughest week to stay focused. And lack of focus is not a good thing when you’re supposed to cover 75 verses in 45 minutes. Verse by verse is impossible and impractical, but it’s tough deciding where we will spend the majority of our time. But I think I’ve decided on that, but there is a lot of wiggle room if I do decide to change.

I’ve noticed that before I came up here I relied to much on Powerpoint as my outline. I’d have a general outline, put it into powerpoint and preach from that…Up here I have Sewell’s projector, but I’ve refused to use it since the brethren do not normally have that luxury. And Sunday morning I am using a sermon that I wrote knowing that I was going to have PowerPoint…and that allowed me to put more verses into the sermon and yet still be able to give the context. Well, that’s produces a potential problem here since some do not know the books of the Bible very well, and I’m afraid I’ll go to fast. So I’m having to decide things like: “how important to the overall idea is this verse?” “Can I make the same point without using this verse?” “What is this verse adding to the sermon?” Just little things like that.
I’ve concluded that I need to keep almost all of the verses so that poses another challenge: how do I present this effeciently and effectively? I have not worked that kink out yet, but that’s where I stand at 3:00 pm on Friday..
I need to finish this relatively soon because we have our bi-weekly Bible study with Larry Bailey tonight at the Mallory’s. Plus, I won’t have a lot of time tomorrow to do “actual” work since I will be driving 2.5 hours to Mt. Marcy (the highest point in NY) to summit the mountain. I will have plenty of meditation time, but no time to sit at my machine and work on a physical outline.
I’m really exited about the next couple of hours. Study tonight, hike tomorrow, dinner at Tia’s home with Tim and other Christians. Class, sermon and pot luck on Sunday. It will be a great weekend if the Lord allows it.
Hope everyone has a great weekend and worship on Sunday!
God bless,
Wes
September 23, 2009

Wednesday September 23


I’m live from Scranton, PA today. Tim and myself just arrived moments ago for the Dave Matthews show tonight. I can sense the jaws dropping now, but he’s a huge fan and I wanted to see some state parks and national parks so I tagged along for the show tonight.

But the day didn’t start the way we had anticipated. We had hoped to leave Albany in time to go to Minnewaska State Park, but we got derailed and would’ve been really pushed for time so we for went the state park so Tim could ride his bike here in Scranton.
It’s an interesting little town. Pretty view of the surrounding mountains from our hotel window. Not mention the University of Scranton and an old train depot are in our back door.
The leaves on the way over were very pretty. The leaves have started to change in NY, but when we got into PA it was amazing the difference! The leaves in PA are much prettier at the moment than the NY leaves. I would’ve guessed it would’ve been the other way around, but I would’ve guessed wrong. But thankful to see this part of the country.
We had another very good mid-week study last night. We had some visitors from the area Tia and Bryana. Everyone knew Tia beforehand, but not everyone had met Bryana. Both of them have had interesting roads to Christ. Both of them came out of the International churches of Christ. The brethren were very thankful that they came to visit.
I’ve completed my series on 1 Peter and will preaching one of my favorite sermons “Fishers of Men” on Sunday. It’s sad that this the last Sunday with the brethren, but I’m honestly ready to get back home. This has been an amazing journey, but my body and mind realize that this is all temporary and am ready to get back to “normalcy.” But there’s so much more to do before a return to “normalcy.”
Both the brethren and myself have learned that neither one us really knew what to expect from one another…as the month winds to a close we’re thinking of all kinds of ways I could’ve been put to better use. That’s not to say that we haven’t used our time effectively, but that we probably should’ve done more with one another during the weeknights. Nevertheless, I believe it has been very helpful for both of us.
Thanks so much for all of your prayers and concerns. I can’t wait to see you guys.
Hope all is well wherever you are.
God bless,
Wes
p.s. that picture is from my office today =)
September 21, 2009

Monday September 21


On a day when school’s are closed in Atlanta for flooding–it’s another gorgeous day in upstate New York! The weather has been amazing the few weeks I’ve been up here, and this weekend I was able to hike several mountains and hills and see God’s wonderful creation.

On Saturday, Tim and myself received a terrific tour of the surrounding Albany area by the local Geico man Dave who is one of Tim’s residents. We started the afternoon by picking our own apples at the Indian Ladder Orchard. That was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. But the part I was most excited about was going up to Thacher Park.
Thacher Park is a New York state park that overlooks the Mohawk Valley. From the overlook you can see all of Albany, some of Schenectady and all the way to the Green Mountains in Vermont and the Adirondacks. (The Adirondack Park Preserve is larger than both Yosemite and Yellow National Parks. I’m really excited becaused I am planning to go to Lake Placid in the Adirondacks on Saturday. ) Dave made the comment that the view we had Saturday was the best he has ever had from the overlook and he’s lived in Albany since the 1960s!
Yesterday, we had a good service. We had one young lady come forward and ask for the prayers of the group as her life has been very tough as of late. So I’d ask all of you to please pray for “Little Francis.”
The point of the sermon yesterday was simple: God’s given you a gift(s): use it to serve others, and thereby glorifying God.
After the service, I went on another hike. I met Vicki Fedde (a member at Mohawk) and her husband Jerry at their home in Quaker Street, NY for a shor hike. We drove about 20 miles from their home to a town called New Middleburgh. New Middleburgh was a bread basket for the American’s during the revolutionary war…and the town is very proud of that fact. About a mile or two outside of New Middleburgh we hiked a trail called Vrome’s Nose Trail.
The peak of this climb had a pretty view of the Scoharie Valley. You could see all the surrounding mountains, the orchards below and the Catskill Mountains. (I’m hoping to be in the Catskills on Wednesday or Thursday at Minnewaska state park.) Jerry said that yesterday was the best view he’s ever had from the top. I couldn’t have asked for better weather! But at the top there was a solid slate of rock called “The Dance Floor” it has an enscryption all the way back to 1868! People have been climbing that peak for quite some time.
After the hike, I went back and had dinner with Vicki & Jerry and had a great time. I was thankful for them inviting me on the hike and for dinner.
I think that catches you guys up on the weekend. This is my last full week in Albany. Time flies when you’re having fun and busy. This coming week will fly by for sure. I’m excited about it and must get back to work so the brethren don’t get jipped.
Hope is well wherever you are especially those in Atlanta with the flooding,
God bless,
Wes
September 17, 2009

Thursday September 17

So I’m a little behind this week on posting, maybe you’ve forgiven me =) But it’s been another good week.

The mid-week study on Tuesday went well. It didn’t start off so hot though. I waited until the last minute to print out the handouts for the class. Well due to my procrastination when the ink began to run out and smear everything I was left with 7 good copies and no way to print anything better. So when people starting showing up I set up a limit: one “good” handout per family. Well, due to sickness we only had 7 people present so everyone got a “good” copy. Now I just need to go to Staples or somewhere and get a new cartridge.

The study itself was a success. We finished up chapter 2 and the discussion of Jesus being greater/better than the angels. We noted that in remainder of chapter 2 we see that:
  1. Jesus is the Ruler of the World (vs 5-9)
  2. Jesus is the Founder/Captain of Salvation (vs 10-13)
  3. Jesus is the Great Helper (vs 14-18)
Surprise, surprise, but I’m a little behind on my sermon for the week.We will be using 1 Peter 4:10-11 as our text. Although, the gist will come from 4:10 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”…
The point I’ll attempt to make is that God has given and entrusted us with a gift:
  1. Use your gift
  2. Use your gift to serve others
  3. Glorify God with your gift (vs 11)
Well, it’s almost time to go run Tim’s dogs at the big field at UAlbany. It might be a little chilly out tonight it’s somewhere around 61ยบ at the moment, and the sun is still full blast. So it’ll cool down quite a bit by the time we get out there. But I like it!
Hope all is well wherever you are.
God bless,
Wes
September 14, 2009

Monday September 14

Today starts the second week of my work in Albany and to this point it’s been terrific!

On Friday evening, Larry Bailey from Sidney, NY came over for his bi-weekly study. The title/purpose of Larry’s class is “How to make the local church stronger” based on the book of Philippians. So we looked Friday night at chapter 2 and how we must have the same mind as Christ..”Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Phil 2:4. The study was something that I needed to hear and sure the brethren up here needed it as well.
Larry was trying to convince me to stay an extra week, since mom and dad will be up the week after I leave. But as I explained to him, I have a prior preaching engagement in Gettysburg, PA on October 4 so unfortunately that isn’t going to work out. Mom and dad will also be in Gettysburg on October 11, so I am a week early from meeting up with them.
Yesterday’s service went well. But there is one member who has not been since the congregation moved to the apartment complex. The brethren are worried about her, but are not having a lot of luck getting in contact with her. Several of the members have offered to go pick her and her son up, but she has not expressed the willingness to accept that offer. The brethren are doing their best to help her along. So pray for them and the young lady.
After services, I was invited over to Granville’s house to watch some football. Needless to say, we didn’t watch a lot of football. We talked for about 5.5 hours about spiritual things. It was a great encouragement for me and I believe for he and his family as well. It’s always great to hear how people get to where they are in their faith. I was thankful to spend time with them.
I almost forgot, Tim’s grandmother is better than last week, but still has many problems. But he felt better after going and visiting her. Please continue to remember her in your prayers.
Well, it’s time to get started on Hebrews material and the weekly sermon. Thanks for all your kind of words.
God bless,
Wes
September 11, 2009

Friday September 11

Where has the time gone? I had intended to get to the UAlbany campus yesterday, but did not have the time…I dropped Tim off at the airport so he could fly down to Tampa to sit with his grandmother. She is in very poor health. The last couple weeks have been rough. Dimensia has set in from her parkinsan’s disease and has been hallucinating very frequently. To compound the problem a little more a few weeks ago she caught a blood infection and things don’t seem to be able to get any better. This is Tim and Danny’s grandmother so pray for all of them.

My sermon for Sunday is called “Suffering Like Christ” from 1 Peter 2:18-25–it’s almost in final form. The reason for the sermon is because last week we noted that because we are born again we must rejoice in our sufferings. So we want to know how to fulfill this statement by Peter “But rejoice insofar as you share in Christ’s sufferings.” (1 Peter 4:13) And in order to do that we have to understand how and why Christ suffered.
Tonight I will be going to a Bible study at the Mallory’s house taught by Larry Bailey. Larry will be driving up from Sidney, NY which is about an 1 1/2 hours away. He teaches a study every other Friday evening with the bretheren here in the Mohawk Valley.
I am even more excited than normal because I have known Larry and his family for almost my entire life. And it’s been probably 6 plus years since I last saw Larry. I think we will be studying the great book of Philippians.
Tim flies back in town tomorrow–and until then he has left me his dogs =\ but that’s part of free room and board.
Hope all is well wherever you are at.
God bless,
Wes
September 9, 2009

Wednesday September 9

What a night last night!

The group had their first mid-week study and I would call it a large success. We had 3 visitors! Tim’s co-worker Brittany, Tim’s mother Betty, and STUART SHANNON!
Tim had been inviting Brittany for several weeks and when I saw her yesterday morning she confirmed that she was going to come. She came and participated thankful for the opportunities that have presented themselves and the work of Tim to invite them to services.
But Stuart is a completely different story…He had told me before I left ATL that he needed to get up to Albany to do some business, but he didn’t know when. Well it was last night. Tim had told him the general area it was in as Stuart was driving to his hotel which is less than a mile from the apartment complex he spotted the Alexander and thought, “that’s probably Tim’s place.” Well, he pulls in and sits in the parking lot for a moment and Tim comes walking out the door looking for a visitor. They notice one another and came upstairs for Bible Study. When Stuart walked in I was already teaching the class on Hebrews and I was so shocked I froze mid-sentence. It was great! I thought Tim was just keeping a secret from me, but then I found out after that it was a total fluke that Stuart was there. But we were so glad to see him, especially the members of Mohawk Valley.
We started a study on the book of Hebrews. I introduced the book and covered through chapter 2:5. They were pretty excited when the study ended because they saw how the Hebrew writer is goin to make his arguments that Jesus is better than anything else. I’m looking forward to covering as much ground as possible in the class. And leave them some material if they want it to finish out the book.
Hope all is well where each of you are.
p.s. I’m still at the coffee shop. Maybe we’ll have internet tonight at the apartment.
September 8, 2009

Catching You Guys Up to the Present

I am going to do my best to keep you guys informed on what is happening in the Northeast. I have been all over the place in the first couple of weeks and today I am settling into the work here in Alabany.

At the moment, I can’t connect to the internet at the apartment so I’m sitting in the Uncommon Grounds coffee shop uploading facebook pictures and starting this blog.
I arrived in Albany to see Tim on August 28th. I preached that Sunday morning for the brethren (Mohawk Valley church of Christ) at the Days Inn where they had been meeting for almost a year. I didn’t get a total count but I think there were 13 people there that Sunday. And they were the most attentive group of 13 I’ve ever preached to. They were great! But I had to leave immediately after services to get to Watertown, NY for the Northeast Leadership Camp where I was a counselor.
It took about 3 1/2 hours to get to the Camp Clark. When I arrived the wind was RIDICULOUS! I met the guys I did not know and after dinner we looked outside and there as a double rainbow! It was beautiful. The main one was the most vivid I’ve ever seen. It started the week off right.
The guys had no idea what to expect. The majority were thinking it was going to be like FC camps where there is a lot of sports and free-time. Well, that doesn’t happen at these types of camps. The guys have 6 classes a day, 45 minutes each. Have a morning devotion, after lunch have a man give a 45 minute presentation on evangelism. Have an evening devotion and singing for an hour. Cabin devotion at 10 pm for however long that takes =). Giving them about 3 hours of free time a day. The guys really had trouble on Monday, but by Tuesday they had figured it out.
They had the following classes: Gary Fisher (Lessons from Jeremiah), Scott Smelser (Beattitudes), Bob Waldron (Teaching the Bible), Sewell Hall (The Life and Epistles of Paul), Gardner Hall (Public Speaking), and Ed Smith (Song-leading).
The guys really did a great job learning that the culture of the camp was to be spiritually focused. Teachers and counselors and the older campers who had been to the Alabama camp had to help in that regard all week long. The guys followed in suit very well and by the end of the week were leading the other guys.
I always hate to leave, but the guys gave me so much encouragement throughout the week. I am really thankful for Joe Works asking me to be a part of the camp. It gave me an opportunity to get involved in the work in the Northeast. I met a lot of people I had heard about from Fairlawn, NJ and New York City and upstate NY. It’s amazing to see brothers from all over the country trying to do the Lord’s work.
So I returned to Albany on Friday evening. The Mohawk Valley brethren met for the first time in the apartment complex. I started a series Sunday morning from 1 Peter. The sermon came from 1 Peter 1 entitled “Being Born Again Should Cause Us to…” 1)Rejoice even though we are grieved by various trials 2)Love Him (Jesus) even though we have not seen Him 3) Believe Him even though we do not see Him NOW.
I personally thought it went very well. I will be continuing the series on Sunday going into detail about suffering from the book of 1 Peter.
Sunday afternoon Tim and myself headed to Manchester, NY to spend the night with Jeff Smith and his wife Jean and daughter Carrie. I met Jeff at leadership camp and he invited us to stay with them and go visit Niagara Falls! Well, we took him up on the offer. I did not know Jeff, but his son Nick married one of my friends from high school Erin Smith and so I’ve met Nick through Erin. Nevertheless it was so good to spend time with them. They lived 2 hours from the falls and made it easy for us to get over yesterday morning. They cooked us dinner on Sunday night. Breakfast on Monday morning and dinner on Monday evening! Not to mention they kept Tim’s dogs because for us. They were tremendous. I’m so thankful that they recently moved to upstate NY to do the work of the Lord.
And that gets us to today Tuesday September 8. Tonight will be the first mid-week study of the Mohawk Valley congregation. I will be starting a study of Hebrews this evening. We have hopes that a couple of Tim’s co-workers will be present as well as some brethren that worship with the institutional group in Albany.
There are a lot of opportunities in this city. The University at Albany is 2 minutes from the apartment complex! I plan to head over tomorrow and see if we can get some Bible studies set up. The brethren are excited and so am I. Please continue to remember us in your prayers.
God bless,
Wes