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February 15, 2019, 3:40 PM

The Good News in February, 2019 ~ A Message from the Pastor

Nothing in seminary taught me what to expect, nor how to navigate our last two years. We moved locations in January 2018 and then we moved rooms in September 2018. I am quite sure it has been tough on folks who do not like changes. What we did / are doing, is certainly not easy. We are making ourselves uncomfortable to be able to make others comfortable. The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks to altruism:
“I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was:
‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’
But by the very nature of this concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question:
‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’
The good Samarian engaged in a dangerous altruism.”
Altruism is the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others. I would suggest it is very hard to be altruistic too often. At best, we can probably manage for a spouse, a child, or a grandchild. Beyond that, selfless concern is hard. That being said, my question becomes, “How do our numbers speak to our situation?” Only two or three of our folks attend Sunday school. About seven or eight attend the weekly prayer times. Attendance in worship has declined to about fourteen on average. How are we answering the question, and the call?
We still worship well, even if it is with someone else. We maintain regular meeting schedules. We continue to love each other immensely. Our giving continues to hold up. I still worry about our attendance.
We did lose four amazing people this year – Dick Long, John Long, Evelyn Talley, and Claude Talley. We baptized no one. We led no one to Christ. My fear is we, as a church, are not as active in this area as we could be, or should be. How can we live more fully into our calling as heard in the Great Commission?

Reverend Tom Ficklin

January 4, 2019, 1:26 PM

The Good News in January, 2019 ~ A Message from the Pastor

What were you doing this time last year? God was doing a new thing with Southampton. As a body, we were preparing for the final service at 7521 Comanche and anxiously anticipating what worship at Woodland Heights would be like. We said goodbye grandly to a place that we will always hold in our hearts and in our memories. That place will always mean so much to so many.
Our move to Woodland Heights was comfortable as we established our new routine. We always worshipped well, and we continued that tradition. The people around us could not have treated us any better than they have. It doesn’t take very many minutes with any of them to realize how kind they are. They have welcomed all who wish to participate in all the various ministries that they do without making us feel like second class citizens or outsiders. There is enough work in God’s Kingdom for all of us, and each of us.
We fell in love with the chapel at Woodland Heights. It is just the right size and just the right environment for a body of our number. And then we heard God say there was yet another new thing that needed to be done by Southampton. We were called out of the comfort of the chapel to come along side Woodland Heights in worship AND in ministry. God loves us to worship well, but as we heard in a recent sermon, our work during the week must match our worship on Sunday.
Doing a new thing involves action. The mission of God (mission Dei) is to reconcile all of creation unto Himself. He depends on each and every person to participate in His mission. All these “new things” that God does have a purpose, and being asked to be obedient Christians, requires each of us to participate. What area(s) of service are you being called to serve God in 2019? How will your weekday service match your Sunday service? The Kingdom is counting on you! Reverend Tom Ficklin

December 2, 2018, 8:29 PM

The Good News in December, 2018 ~ A Message from the Pastor

Heather, Kim, Sally, Scarlett, David, and I sat down November 27th and planned out and talked through seven worship services – Advent 1 Hanging of the Greens, Advent 2, Advent 3 Lessons and Carols, Blue Christmas, Advent 4 with the young folks and a baptism, Christmas Eve 3 p.m., and Christmas Eve 5 p.m. After all of that, we feel like we are ready to start the New Year…
But alas, such is this time of year. We all have places to decorate, presents to buy, then wrap, people to visit, carols to sing, football and basketball games to watch, and parties galore. Society glorifies busyness when Christians are told to glorify God. Personally, at some level, are we afraid we might miss one thing, so we attempt to do everything? In all of this, our worry probably should be that we will miss His Presence. How then do we each deal with the verse, “Be still and know that I am God”?
Please find time in the busyness to practice some spiritual healthiness.
Genesis 3:8 tells of God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze. I am sure He would enjoy your company if you weren’t too busy.
Exodus 26:11 reminds us that God walks among us. How do you look for Him instead of the next agenda item?
Isaiah 9:2 acknowledges that people who live in darkness have seen a great light. How do you take time to differentiate between the tacky lights and the great light?
1 Samuel 10:26 shows where God has touched men’s hearts. Have you made time and contemplated what that means to you?
God had time to send his Son Jesus to seek us out and save us for eternity and give us the Comforter while we walk this earth. That really sounds like a relationship worth investing time in, even if we had to pause some of the busyness…
Merry Christmas!!

September 3, 2018, 4:04 PM

The Good News in September, 2018 ~ A Message from the Pastor

It seems like I write one of these columns every week. Every time I turn around Sally is asking for another one. “Tom, I am certainly not pushing, but it IS time for the newsletter to go out.” I promise her to get one ahead and well, that never happens either.

What have I done in the previous paragraph? Is it exaggeration almost to the point of hyperbole? Is it complaining? Is it whining? Is it being a drama “king”? Probably YES to each of those last four questions. So here, in a quarter of a page, I have focused on one simple thing I have to do today, and actually, may have caused anxiety in the reader.

I neglected to tell you that I slept well last night, to tell you that I had a magnificent breakfast, to tell you I drove to work safely, to tell you one of my friends was very kind to me, to tell you about the man who encouraged me so much in a simple casual conversation, to tell you that my mother posted a picture of her parents on their wedding day that simply flooded my heart with a plethora of amazing memories of two people who showed me how much they dearly loved me. Should I continue or are you getting the picture? I complain about one small trying thing when I have a multitude of amazing things going on in my life! Isn’t it amazing how we present ourselves? We have so much good, but we talk about our fears, frustrations, or obstacles and not the love which fills our heart.

Our image, character, nature is too often narrowly defined by the small slices of life that others observe in our life. “By your fruit you shall be known.”

So, what if, for 30 days, all we talked about was how good God had been to us? What if, for everyone we talk to, we conveyed a loving heart of God based on the words we used?

What would people start to think about you? What would people start to think about Christians? What would people start to believe about Christians? Who might want to follow you to church simply because of your gospel words?

Rev. Tom Ficklin

July 28, 2018, 1:28 PM

The Good News in August, 2018 ~ A Message from the Pastor

There is an article being written about our church. It tells our story, specifically the story of our move, except that it is really not about our move. It is about how a group of people who love each other and were willing to listen to God, and who actually found the strength of faith to take a chance.
I am not sure that is how we would characterize the emotionality of the winter of 2017; it seemed much too emotionally raw at that point to sound that good.
I am not sure that is how we would characterize the sense of frustration we felt in the spring and summer of 2017 in sorting through the potential choices that could potentially lay ahead of us, and discounting most of them away.
I am not sure that is how we would characterize the sense of relief we felt in the fall of 2017 when we met with The Virginia Baptist Foundation and they thought they could take an old thing and adapt it to a new thing. We were going to attempt to do something that no other Baptist church had ever done.
I am not sure that is how we would characterize the late fall of 2017 when all we felt was the anxiety of having to move everything we had or the strong sense of relief when Woodland Heights offered us space or the supreme celebration we felt on December 31, 2017.
I am not sure that is how we would characterize the winter of 2018 when we were in the new space feeling relieved that we did not have a myriad of things to fix every week in an aging building.
BUT, when you put that whole story together, that underlined sentence makes perfect sense. Our lives are like that. When we focus on small segments of time, our emotions are very different than when we look at the overarching thread of who we are and what we are about and who we belong to. Please, don’t ever get lost in the emotions of the everyday without remembering God has His own grand story, which includes
Y O U!
Reverend Tom Ficklin

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