Friday, June 29, 2007

Report on our team in Peru

PCA minister Roland Barnes is in Peru right now, and gives this glimpse of what our own team (led by Ruling Elder Danny Story) is doing:

"Yesterday, after a time of devotion and prayer, we continued work at the construction site. Some of us were pounding away with a small sledge hammer busting up an old concrete column so we could remove it.

Others were cutting rebar into lengths so that they could then be bent into a square shape. These pieces of rebar will be used to build the rebar frame for a new column. Other workers were mixing concrete so they could pour it into the footings. At the same time that we are working on the building the medical team from FPC, Jackson is at work in the church building. They had to close the doors this morning because someone put an announcement on a local radio station about the free clinic and when they arrived this morning there were already too many people to see. They worked until 8:00 p.m. last night. The sanctuary is the waiting room and the back rooms are the patient rooms. Phil went over and translated an evangelistic message for those who were waiting to be seen. There is also a cardiologist from FPC, Jackson who is seeing patients. There is another group of people from FPC, Jackson who are doing VBS and sports with the children."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Hugh & Martine Wessel, Proclaiming Christ in France

Hugh and Martine met in 1969 while Hugh was serving in the United States Army in Munich, Germany. They were converted at L’Abri in Switzerland in 1972, and were married by their pastor, Francis Schaeffer, in 1973.

The Wessels have been serving with Mission to the World since 1979. Their initial charge: church planting, evangelism and church renewal. During their second term, the Wessels founded the Marseille Team. In 1989 Hugh was made country director for France, and supervised teams with CoMission in Ukraine. In 1995 Hugh was asked to be European regional director for MTW, giving oversight to church-planting teams, opening new fields, and training missionaries.

Currently, Hugh has moved into a role of consultant for research and development. In addition, he trains French pastors and laypeople in evangelism; gives oversight to French church plants; and preaches, teaches, and lectures throughout France.

Martine has ministered through teaching Sunday school, using their home extensively for hospitality, and leading women’s Bible studies. Martine and Hugh have three adult children: Laurence, Damaris, and Nils.

Please pray for the Wessels as they spread the gospel in France.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Many Mansions"

On December 25, 1737, after the seating of the third new meetinghouse in Northampton’s history, Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon entitled, “Many Mansions.” In eighteenth century New England, seats in the meetinghouse were assigned according to social rank. The sermon is based on John 14:2, “In My Father’s house are many mansions.” This is his conclusion:

'Tis very little worth the while for us to pursue after honor in this world, where the greatest honor is but a bubble and will soon vanish away, and death will level all. Some have more stately houses than others, and some are in higher office than others, and some are richer than others and have higher seats in the meeting-house than others; but all graves are upon a level.

But the mansions in God's house above are everlasting mansions. Those that have seats allotted 'em there, whether of greater or lesser dignity, whether nearer or further from the throne, will hold 'em to all eternity. This is promised, Revelation 3:12 :"Him that overcometh I will make him a pillar in the temple [of my God, and he shall go no more out]." If it be worth the while to desire and seek high seats in the meeting-house, where you are one day in a week, and where you shall never come but few days in all; if it be worth the while much to prize one seat above another in the house of worship only because it is the pew or seat that is ranked first in number, and to be seen here for a few days, how will it be worth the while to seek an high mansion in God's temple and in that glorious place that is the everlasting habitation of God and all his children!

You that are pleased with your seats in this house because you are seated high or in a place that is looked upon honorable by those that sit round about, and because many can behold you, consider how short a time you will enjoy this pleasure. And if there be any that are not suited in their seats because they are too low for them, let them consider that it is but a very little while before it will [be] all one to you whether you have sat high or low here. But it will be of infinite and everlasting concern to you where your seat is in another world. Let your great concern be while in this world so to improve your opportunities in God's house in this world, whether you sit high or low, as that you may have a distinguished and glorious mansion in God's house in heaven, where you may be fixed in your place in that glorious assembly in an everlasting rest.

Let the main thing that we prize in God's house be, not the outward ornaments of it, or a high seat in it, but the word of God and his ordinances in it. And spend your time here in seeking Christ, that he may prepare a place for you in his Father's house, that when he comes again to this world, he may take you to himself, that where he is, there you may be also.

From Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, edited with introduction and notes by H. Horman Gardiner, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1904.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lord's Day in the New Meeting House

Preparatory Thoughts for Worship
Lord's Day, June 24, 2007
First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS

On Sunday morning, October 9, 1853, Dr. Benjamin Morgan Palmer (then the Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC, later the Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, New Orleans – who incidentally preached the dedication of our second sanctuary in 1892) said in his sermon dedicating the new church building for First Columbia –

"As for this building, beautiful as it may be in our eyes, let it please us to call only a plain Presbyterian meeting house.

The glory we see in it,
let it not be the glory of its arches and its timbers;
not the glory of its lofty and graceful spire, pointing ever upwards to that home the pious shall find [with] God;
not the glory of this chaste pulpit, with its delicate tracery and marble whiteness;
not the glory found in the eloquence or learning of those who, through generations, shall here proclaim the gospel;
nor yet the glory traced in the wealth and fashion, refinement and social position of those who throng its courts.

But let its glory be The Glory of the Lord Risen Upon It!
Let its glory be the promises of the covenant engraved upon its walls, which are yea and amen in Christ Jesus.
Let its glory be found in the purity, soundness, and unction of its pastors; in the fidelity and watchfulness of its elders; in the piety and godliness of its members.
Let its glory be as a birthplace of souls, where shall always be heard the sobs of awakened penitence and the songs of newborn love.
Let its glory be the spirituality of its worship, its fervent prayers, its adoring praise, and the simplicity and truth of its ordinances and sacraments.
Let its glory be the communion of saints, who here have fellowship one with another and also with the Father and his son, Jesus Christ.
Let its glory be as the resting place of weary pilgrims toiling on toward the heavenly city—the emblem of that Church above—Where congregations ne’er break up, And Sabbaths never end."

May the glory of the Lord be so manifest in your hearts and lives and public worship, through the grace of Christ in the Gospel, that those who gather with us to join in his praise will ever say, surely God is among you (1 Corinthians 14:25), and surely the Lord is in this place (Genesis 28:16).

Monday, June 25, 2007

Lines for Summer

Cindy Mercer Photography

The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.

As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull;
The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull.

The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be--
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?

Robert Frost

For the heart of this people has become dull,
And with their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes
Lest they should see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I should heal them.

"But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. "

Matthew 13:15-16

Sunday, June 24, 2007

No. 53 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

No. 53 – Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (based on Psalms 103 and 150)
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty is one of the very best hymns (thinking of the combination of text and tune) written in the last three hundred fifty years, and it is no surprise that it is a favorite of our congregation. The text of the song is based on Psalms 103 and 150. In the Scottish Psalter and Church Hymnary of 1929, it finds itself aptly located in the section delineated "God: His Being, Works, Word." The song’s author was Joachim Neander, the grandson of a musician and the son of a teacher. He studied theology at Bremen, Heidelberg and then Frankfurt, where (at the age of 23) he met the great German Pietist scholars Philipp Jakob Spener (1635-1705) and Johann Jakob Schütz (1640-1690). Neander died at the young age of 30, perhaps of the plague, having served in his short life as a school principal and as a minister. He wrote this hymn when he was 20.

Julian, the great hymnologist says "A magnificent hymn of praise to God, perhaps the finest production of its author (the German hymn-writer, Neander), and of the first rank in its class." "Praise to the Lord" is the opening phrase of each stanza of this song that draws on Psalms 103 and 150. It was translated by the remarkable Catherine Winkworth who "lived most of her life in Manchester, England. The notable exception was the year she spent in Dresden, Germany. Around 1854, she published Lyra Germanica, containing numerous German hymns translated into English. She went on to publish another series of German hymns in 1858. In 1863, she came out with The Chorale Book for England, and in 1869, Christian Singers of Germany. More than any other single person, she helped bring the German chorale tradition to the English speaking world." (

Each stanza begins with "Praise to the Lord." Stanza one praises the almighty Lord who is the Creator God for his blessings of both health and salvation. It begins with a self-exhortation, as we speak to our own souls ("O my soul, praise him"), echoing Psalm 103:1-2, exhorting our own selves to praise the Lord, and concludes with an exhortation to all within earshot ("All ye who hear") to draw near to God with joyful adoration.

Stanza two openly, gladly and unapologetically acknowledges God’s sovereignty over all things, especially as it is seen in his protective care of us ("Shelters thee under His wings," "gently sustains us"). By the way, notice how we are still talking to ourselves – "Shelters thee," thee being you talking to your own soul! It reminds you of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ suggestion that Christians ought to argue with and preach to themselves! The second stanza concludes with a self-reminder that God has often granted our heart’s desires in his providential unfolding of his plan in our lives.

Stanza three again recognizes that it is the Lord who "prospers the work of our hands" (see Psalm 90:17) and who protects us from our enemies. Once again, this stanza has us exhorting our souls to give praise to God because of his blessings to us ("Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee"). The third stanza acknowledges that "His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee" (reminding one of Lamentations 3:22-23), and then goes on to exhort our heart to "Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, If with His love He befriend thee." That is, just think of what God can do, if he pours out his saving love on you?

Stanza four acknowledges God has our own maker, the giver of our health, the loving providential guide and support of our life. It’s powerful language crescendos with the bold and believing declaration: "How oft in grief hath not he brought thee relief, spreading his wings to o’er shade thee!" I have often sung this phrase in tears of trust, in the bonds of suffering, in confident peace, in our congregation.

Stanza five, once more, asks our self to give God our all in praise ("O let all that is in me adore Him!"), and then transitions to the words and exhortation of Psalm 150:6 "All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him," concluding with a call to God’s people to add their "so be it," their "Amen," to the praise, and to continue this happy praise forever.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Getting Ready for Sunday

Dozens and dozens of folks have worked tirelessly to get us ready to occupy the new sanctuary (none harder or longer than the amazing Bill Wymond). These pics give you a feel for the all-day, last-minute, Saturday preparations.


Thursday, June 21, 2007


Atheism is passé. Secularism is dead, or dying. Philosophical rationalism is running on empty, and postmodern philosophers now announce “the post-secular age.” Neo-Paganism is alive and well. Today, June 21, 2007, is the day of the Summer Solstice Sunrise. See the story in the Boston Globe.


Walking By Faith

(Cindy Mercer Photography)

"Receptivity to what is given in the present: that is the proper posture for the creature. . . . This sort of trust involves a willingness to receive what is given (even if it was not originally desired) as well as a willingness to let it go again without grasping after repetition of the pleasure. Always, one must throw oneself into the wave."

Gilbert Meilaender

The Taste for the Other: The Social and Ethical Thought of C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Dawn Brady, Serving the Lord in Ukraine

Dawn accepted Christ as her personal Savior when she was five years old. Her faith was further deepened at a summer camp when she realized that outward obedience was not enough; her attitude needed to be pleasing to God as well.

She graduated from Covenant College in 1993 and earned her CPA in 1998. In October 1999 she went to Kiev, Ukraine for a two-year mission trip with MTW/Impact. She worked as the Team Administrator assisting the church-planting team with administrative and financial details, which enabled the team to function more efficiently.

During her two years in Kiev, Dawn began to sense God’s calling to long-term missionary service. She fit in well with the people in Ukraine and enjoyed studying the Russian language. The church in Ukraine is growing, and Dawn looks forward to returning to Ukraine and joining the work there again.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Found my way back!

It has been a while since I blogged on the 'First Pres' blog. Whenever it changed to the new version, I somehow had my information wiped! I know, that's pathetic, but it's true!

I thought I might solicit your prayers as Rosemary and I spend next week with my Baptist friends. Here's a site you might want to glance at to see what terrible conditions I have to endure! As you can see, I am speaking on 'God's Providence in the Life of Christ' and hope to cover three events: the temptations, the transfiguration and the crucifixion.


Missionary Spotlight ~ Earl & Rosie Adams, Bolivia

Earl is originally from Selma, Alabama and Rosie is from Waialua, Hawaii. They have been married since 1971. Earl and Rosie have one adult daughter, Elizabeth Leilani (Lani) Sewell, and a younger daughter, Carla. Earl and Rosie were called to missions during their time at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS to be obedient to the Great Commission. After graduation, they served with MTW for 11 years, mainly in the country of Peru as church planters in the Hinterland Ministry. Earl then served as assistant pastor for pastoral care at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS for nearly four years, and then served as pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Madison, FL.

Earl and Rosie have been called to minister to the Quechuas once again. The burden for the Quechua people of the Andes Mountains in South America has remained close to their hearts. With over 12 million people, they are the largest unreached people group in all of the Americas, and for the most part, have never even heard the name of Jesus before. Please pray for Earl and Rosie as they minister through church planting and evangelism among the Quechuas.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

More Sanctuary Pics - Ten Day Countdown

Lord willing, our first services in the new sanctuary will be held on Sunday, June 24, 2007. The organ builders are working feverishly to install the pipes of the organ (but it will take all summer for them to build/complete it). Until then, thought you might enjoy a few more shots of the interior. The first one is shot from the West balcony. The second from the main floor aisle. The "holes" in the chancel back wall will be filled in once the organ pipes have been installed. The openings in the side of the chancel will be filled with exposed pipes.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Bonnie Lou Dolan, Zambia

Bonnie Lou Dolan, a native of Minnesota, entered into a personal relationship with Christ in 1986. After receiving her call to missions in 1988, she received a Master of Arts in Missions from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. She is currently completing her PhD Studies with Vision International University. Bonnie Lou, a member of First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, moved to Zambia, Africa in 1998 where she has been serving as a missionary for the past 9 years. In 2000 Bonnie founded the Centre for Christian Missions, a Christian organization engaging in evangelism, disciple-making, and social action ministries. Bonnie has since planted CCM Bible College, CCM Trust School and is now planting CCM Theological Seminary with the goal of raising up national church leadership that will fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ worldwide. Pray for Bonnie Lou as she continues to serve the Lord as a missionary in Zambia.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Missionary Spotlight ~ Tim & Sarah Horn, England

Both Tim and Sarah have served on the staff of First Presbyterian Church. Tim served as the Director of Student Ministries and Discipleship from 1996 until 1999. Sarah was women's coordinator in the Student Ministries Department from 1989-1991.

In 1998, the Horns were called to minister in England, a land with a rich spiritual heritage, but a heritage that is largely lost on the population of England. Less than 10% of the people of England actually attend church of any kind.

The Horns have been living and ministering in England as MTW missionaries since 2001. They were invited by the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales (EPCEW) to plant churches in the United Kingdom and to help strengthen this young denomination. They moved to Cheltenham, England in August of 2001 and began a church plant there in the southwest midlands of England. In December of 2004, the Cheltenham Presbyterian Mission became a particular church of the EPCEW. Cheltenham Evangelical Presbyterian Church ( has continued to grow and make greater efforts to engage English culture with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The church now has a growing ministry to its local university, the University of Gloucestershire. Currently, two interns lead this ministry under Tim's supervision, but they are looking forward to the arrival of a full-time ordained minister (MTW missionaries, Steve & Kelly Marusich) to take over this ministry in January.

Tim is currently the Assistant Team Leader for Team Britain, MTW's team
working with the EPCEW. He also serves on the Church Planting Committee of
the denomination. Since beginning their association with the EPCEW, this young denomination has grown from 5 churches to 9 churches, with a desire to see many more churches planted.

The Horns have four children: Katherine (15), Winston (12), Harrison (9), and Virginia (7).

Please pray for Cheltenham Evangelical Presbyterian Church and Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales (EPCEW) that there would be both spiritual and numerical growth.

Please pray for the conversion of the Horns' non-Christian friends. Several of them are currently considering Christianity.

Please pray for their marriage and family life; especially for the children who have few, if any, Christian friends.

Please pray for more people to join their financial support team. There is a great need for more pledged support to meet their monthly budget needs.