On May 9, 2011 Dee's ministry at Berea First Baptist Church came to an end and our family began the "Unexpected Adventure" of building a bridge to a new future. Through this blog, we invite you to share this journey with us.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Light a Candle of Hope

Today, as I led my final worship service at Parisview Baptist Church, our family had the honor of lighting the first candle on the Advent wreath; the candle of hope.  Andrew, Josh, Linda, and I each had a part to play and had a message we wanted to share.  Parisview has been a place of hope for our family.  Let me share with you what we shared with our dear friends in worship. 

Andrew:  Through the prophet, Isaiah, God made this promise to us, His people:

Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Dee: This is the season of hope.  Today we celebrate the beginning of Advent, the time of year when we remember how God gave us hope by sending Jesus into the world to be our Savior.  That hope is real to all of us who have gathered for worship today.  No matter what pain you’ve suffered.  No matter what obstacles you face.  No matter what questions remain unanswered, you have hope today because of Jesus. 

Linda: God also gives us hope through His people—His people here at Parisview.  Our family came here six months ago, deeply wounded and wondering what our future would hold.  The first day that we walked into the church, we knew that we were in a place of hope.  You loved us.  You listened to us.  You welcomed us and our ministry.  You showed us that church is a good place and that you are truly good people.  Today, as our family comes to the end of our ministry at Parisview, we thank God and we thank you, for giving us the gift of hope.  As we light the hope candle on the Advent wreath, we pray that the light of hope will shine upon you today.

(Light hope candle)

Josh: Let us pray.  We thank you, God, that you are at work in our lives, working to give us hope and a future.  Thank you for the hope that our family has experienced through the love of Parisview Baptist Church.  And I pray that every person here, no matter what his or her need, will be touched and changed by hope today.  We pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thank You, Parisview

If you've ever had surgery, you know that your first attempt to walk after the procedure can be very painful.  Most often, someone comes to your bedside, helps you up and walks with you as, in spite of the soreness, you take those first steps back into the fullness of your life.

As I prepare to begin a new chapter of my life and ministry, I owe an incalculable debt of thanks to a fellowship of believers who came to me in a time of great pain and helped me take my own first steps back into the fullness of my ministry and my life.

Two weeks after my very painful departure from my former church, I was contacted by David Smith, deacon chairman at Parisview Baptist Church, to ask if I was willing to explore the possibility of helping Parisview through its own time of transition.  I met with the church's deacon ministry and agreed to lead worship for two months.  I didn't want to promise more than that because I wasn't sure that I could deliver.  My soul was sore.  I felt betrayed by a church I'd served for twelve years and had mixed feelings about serving any church after that experience.  On June 5, I took my first painful step back into the ministry.  I preached my first sermon at Parisview, "You Can Begin Again."  The words of that title describe so well the message that the people of Parisview began to preach to me through their actions and their attitudes.  They listened to my story.  They mourned with me.  They praised  the good they saw in me and my ministry.  They prayed with me and for me. They walked with me, each step of the way, as I began to work the soreness out of my soul and reclaim my place in God's family.  We walked together, not for two months, but for five months because, at Parisview, the words "church" and "family" really do belong together. Parisview is a place of grace.

Last Sunday, I preached at St. Andrews Baptist Church in Columbia at the invitation of their pastor search committee.  St. Andrews heard me preach a sermon entitled "Grace Is Enough."  They heard it because Parisview Baptist Church had written that message upon my heart.  Through their ministry to me, grace was enough to heal my heart and renew my strength to serve.  Thank you, Parisview. May God bless you as you have blessed me.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

An Important Family Update

Thanksgiving Comes Early 
for the Vaughan Family

After six very long and trying months, our family is celebrating a wonderful new beginning.  Dee has been called to serve as Senior Pastor at St. Andrews Baptist Church in Columbia, SC.  Our family already feels a deep connection with and love for these good people.  Dee will begin his ministry at St. Andrews on December 1. 
Linda and Andrew will continue to live in Travelers Rest until June 2012.  We want Andrew to complete his senior year at Traveler’s Rest High School and graduate with his friends.  Linda also wants to complete a full year of teaching Developmental English at Greenville Technical College.  Until June, Dee will be a “migratory bird,” working in Columbia and driving to TR a couple of days each week.  This will give us time to get our home ready to put on the market and to learn our way around Columbia. 

We want to thank our wonderful friends who have stood by us, encouraged us, and lifted us up in prayer during these times of change.  You have brought to life the scripture that says, “A friend loves at all times…” (Proverbs 17:17).  We also want to express our deep appreciation to the Parisview Baptist Church family.  These folks, also in a time of change, gave us a warm and loving place to belong and to serve.  Dee’s final service at Parisview will be probably be November 27. 

If you haven’t kept up with our family, Elizabeth and her husband Josh brought a grandchild into our lives on July 25.  Liam has brought us so much joy and has put the “grand” in grandchild.  Josh, Elizabeth and Liam live in Monetta, S.C., where Josh serves the Bethel Baptist Church as pastor.  Elizabeth teaches a self-contained special education class in the Saluda School District.  When we finally settle in Columbia, we will be only 30-40 minutes from Liam….and his parents. 

Our son, Josh, graduated from Clemson and is now at Elon University, working toward his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.  He is almost a year into this intensive three-year program.  Along with classes and labs, intramural sports and refereeing soccer games, Josh recently went skydiving. His girlfriend, Jen, literally told him to “go jump” for his birthday.  We don’t get to see Josh too often, but we talk by phone several times a week.  

Our family hopes that this Thanksgiving season finds you with far too many blessings to count.  Know that we count you among the greatest of God’s gifts to us. 

Dee, Linda, Josh, and Andrew Vaughan
Josh, Elizabeth, and Liam Davison

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Coping with Critics

A young friend of mine in ministry recently suffered a few cuts from critics.  I sent him this message and wonder if others might be blessed by "overhearing" it.

When I have heard the noise of criticism, I have found comfort and truth in these words of Theodore Roosevelt: 

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
"Citizenship in a Republic,"
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

If critics are needy noisy people, love them, but don't let them lead you. 
If critics harm God's family, confront them.
If critics are right, learn from them. 

And remember, you can visit every town square in the world and you won't find a single statue of a critic.