How is it possible that we're in the third week of 2019 - ALREADY?!
I hope your new year is off to a wonderful start. Don't you just love fresh beginnings? I find such comfort in the reminder from Lamentations that God's mercies are new every morning. (He must be very much a fan of new beginnings.)
We've been blessed to start this year off with our dear friends from England, the Parsons. We were delighted to spend two weeks with them last September. That's when Frank and I were privileged to minister for the St. Austell Baptist Church in Cornwall. Such a dear congregation and now our new friends.
Of course, we've been close with the Parsons for over 20 years now. They were the pastors first used by God to encourage us to travel as evangelists. What started out as a simple, one month missions assignment in England blossomed into 6 years of ministry taking us all over the U.S. and a few other foreign countries.
Three teenaged daughters, a mom a dad and all those SHOES! A Resplendent Season, Indeed! We were once interviewed by a reporter with the BBC. Because we sang together as a family, he introduced us as "The Hawleys Von Trapp!"
2019 will be another adventure for us with our own congregation here in Florida. We've spent the past six months preparing for a new season as a church family. For over a decade, we've focused on providing numerous events/outreaches each year for our congregation and community. But halfway through last year, we felt this would be a time to pause from those activities.
We spent a lot of time in prayer and in talking with our other leaders. After much consideration, it was determined this truly was the direction for Garden Grove Church. So we've suspended all events outside our Sunday and Wednesday services/classes. We chose the word PURSUE as our key. We're Pursuing God; Pursuing One Another; Pursuing Our Neighbors.
All our preaching and teaching are focused on discipleship and personally growing closer to God. We're urging our own church family to pursue relationship; make an effort to meet someone new. (Get to know the people they smile at every Sunday but have no clue what their name might be.) The third element is to pursue those around us who are far from God.
It sounds basic. Simplistic. But the change has been major for us all.
We're accustomed to planning and executing on a bi-weekly basis. This business of focusing solely on discipleship and relationship-building has required a shift of thinking as well as action. However, we're already seeing good fruit from our efforts. Obedience ALWAYS brings reward. Even if we don't fully see where we're going, following the whispers of Heaven is the best way to walk.
Today would have been my mom's 82nd birthday. I miss her in so many ways after a decade of being without her. I'm sure I always will. But then I also think how excited she would be to hear about the new direction our church is taking. Mom loved new beginnings. Maybe that's why her oldest daughter finds delight in them as well.
Blessings to you all!