Another Marriage Moment

(Rough Ridge Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway)

How do you have marriage moments when your spouse is out of town?

This week, my wife has been in central Kentucky serving her mom and dad along with her sisters as my father-in-law continues to battle congestive heart failure. I am so grateful she still has her parents here on this side of heaven and the blessed assurance of eternity together on the other side (John 14:1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)!!

When Denise is away like this or out of town speaking at a ladies’ event, it is so important for us to stay connected. Therefore, I am grateful for our phones. We can text and chat whenever needed and best of all, catch up at the end of day and pray together. For all these years, no matter where we are, we make every effort to end the night in prayer. This is the most important marriage moment . . . when we pray together. We may be miles apart, but what a blessed privilege it is to meet at the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:16).

Men, do you pray with your wife? As I said in last Friday’s post, a moment by definition is “a very brief period of time; an exact point in time; an appropriate time for doing something; an opportunity; formally, importance.” Praying with your wife is always an appropriate action. It is a great opportunity to join your hearts together before the One Who is full of love, mercy, grace, compassion, and wisdom. It is a very important moment.

How about stopping right now or the very next moment you have and pray with your wife? Take her by the hands, praise God for her, pray for her needs, pray for your marriage, share your heart, and then expect God to hear and answer. If you are not together, then use your phone. If you can’t call, send a short text to say that you are praying for her at that moment.

Men, if you are not in the practice of praying with your wife, then simply humble yourself before the Lord and your wife and have at it today.

Growing, flourishing, and contented marriages are built upon intentional moments in prayer as you gather at the Throne of Grace.

Marriage Moment

Life is made up of multiplied thousands of moments.

A moment by definition is “a very brief period of time; an exact point in time; an appropriate time for doing something; an opportunity; formally, importance.”

Moments come and go. Moments can become treasures by choice. Moments can turn the tide. What moments have you had in your marriage this past week? Have you seized the moment?

Thursday morning, my wife and I shared in a moment that quite frankly fits into every point of the definition except for a “very brief period of time.” Usually Denise and I spend our early morning hours alone. I make her coffee and deliver it with a “good morning kiss.” Then we to go to our separate quiet areas to enjoy our brew. There we read and study the Word, transcribe our thoughts in a journal and then meet with the Lord at the Throne of Grace in prayer plus a time of exercise (she walks, I run).

Our marriage moment Thursday was an addition to our normal morning routine. After preparing breakfast, we gathered at our old oak kitchen table for good food and the reading of Paul David Tripp’s devotion, New Morning Mercies. Indeed, this moment was filled with encouragement, edification, sweet notes of love, prayer and intentional investment in our marriage.

You may not have the opportunity to have this kind of moment due to your work schedule and/or children in the house, etc. My challenge for you and your marriage is to intentionally seize the moment to be with your spouse at least for a few minutes each day. Men, in particular, look for these moments. Treasure these moments. There will be thousands of moments in your marriage lifetime.

What will be your marriage moment(s) today?

Faces

The first time I heard it many years ago, I was deeply moved to tears. It was as though I had written the lyrics. Ever since, Faces, has caused a mental review of nearly 37 years of ministry that stirs my heart and brings the tears.

I was reminded of Faces while ministering in Thompson, PA, Sunday, September 27th. The afternoon service was dedicated to the commissioning of Carl Butler, the new pastor of Thompson Baptist Church. Indeed, it was a joyful occasion! This congregation, without an under-shepherd for three years and now small in number, had weathered many storms. This day brought God-size hopes for the future.

The occasion at hand also gave the church family an opportunity to express their appreciation for every pastor and layman in attendance who had filled the Thompson pulpit during those waiting days. These men came from all around, some haven driven over the mountains on narrow roads to minister to God’s people over the years. Many probably came at their own expense. Some had to return to a bi-vocational job on Monday such as driving a dump truck hauling bluestone.

These men, the majority of them unknown to the Twitter feeds, podcasts and speaking circuits, have simply been . . . faithful. They have used their talents (Matthew 25:23) to serve their Lord in their God-appointed fields. As I stood in the midst of them as we gathered around Pastor Butler to pray, my heart was moved again. These are God’s faithful men. They have seen multiplied days of joy, thanksgiving, sorrow, testings, wonderings, answered prayer, misunderstandings, death, sickness, miracles, salvations, . . . and through it all, remained faithful “to plow the field and plant the seed.” They have remained faithful because God is faithful (Psalm 33:4; Lamentations 3:22-23; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; 1 Peter 4:19)

One day, on the other side, they will see the faces because they will be standing face-to-face with the One Who paid the price and accomplished the work through these faithful men (Matthew 25:23; John 15:1-5).

I dreamed my life was done
I stood before God’s Son
It was time to see what my reward would be
With love he reviewed my life
To count what was done for Christ
For that is what will last eternally

See I’d done my best to share
That Jesus really cares
And he would save if they just believe
Oh, but seldom did harvest come
And so few did I see won
Until the Lord said, “turn around and see.”

[Chorus:]
Then he showed me the faces of the ones who’d come because of me
So many faces that my life had led to Calvary
All those years I thought nobody saw as I labored in lowly places
That’s when Jesus smiled and showed me all the faces
.

He said though you did not see the yield,
You were faithful to plow the field
At other times you helped me plant the seed
No matter how small the task, you did just as I asked
And thanks to you these souls have been set free.

[Chorus:]
Then he showed me the faces of the ones who’d come because of me
So many faces that my life had led to Calvary
All those years I thought nobody saw as I labored in lowly places
That’s when Jesus smiled and showed me all the faces
.

Songwriter: Rodney Griffin

Sung by: Greater Vision

Listen to Him

Last night’s presidential debate, . . . well, what a fiasco! What an eye-opening view once again into the heart of man (Jeremiah 17:9).

How difficult it is to listen to three men argue, interrupt, accuse, disparage, and fuss! Proverbs 18:13 reminds us, If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

This past Sunday, I had the joy of listening to Carl Butler, the new pastor of Thompson Baptist Church, Thompson, PA, preach from Hebrews. The major portion of his message was seven reasons why we should listen to the Lord Jesus Christ.

As God’s final Spokesman, Jesus Christ deserves to be heard because . . .

  • He was appointed heir of all things (1:2).
  • He was God’s Active Agent in creation (1:2).
  • He revealed the Divine Glory (1:3).
  • He represented God’s character in the flesh (1:3)
  • He upholds all things right now by the word of His power (1:3).
  • He has totally purged our sins (1:3)
  • He finished the job and is seated at God the Father’s right hand (1:3)

Against the backdrop of last night’s disappointment and debacle, may I say to you today, because of Who Christ is, listen to Him. Men will fail you. Men are not omniscient. Men are fallible. Men are self-serving. Men need Jesus.

Open your Bible. Sit at Jesus’ feet (Luke 10:38-42). Listen to Him (Romans 10:17; James 1:19-21; Revelation 2:7).

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:1-5)

(Debate pic from thinkadvisor.com)

The Monday After

“We had six saved today, three baptized, ten join the church, the house was full, and I had great liberty in preaching!” (A fake tweet that parallels the statements of some pastors on Monday after they have had “a ready good” Sunday!)

“We had a small crowd, no one came forward at the invitation, a section of the church was empty due to a group who left the church this past week, and I bombed my sermon.” (A fake tweet that parallels the feelings of too many pastors on Monday after a “rough” Sunday.”)

Before social media, I heard both of these kind of statements when I attended a local preacher’s fellowship or read a bi-weekly preacher’s newspaper. Now it’s in real time on Sundays and Mondays.

Oh the joys and heartaches, the delights and discouragements, the successes and failures, and the highs and lows of Sundays for a pastor!

But every Monday, I have to come back to the Truth. I cannot listen to myself. I must preach the Truth to myself.

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
7 In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.
(Psalm 62:5-7)

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:18-19)

For without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. (Romans 12:15-16)

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:5-11)

And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18)

The “tweet” that will really matter is when we stand alone before the Lord Jesus Christ at the Bema, and we hear His declaration about the ministry that He entrusted to us. That’s when it will matter.

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss. (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

So men, let’s press forward today in the grace of God as we keep the end in mind rather than our viewpoint or other’s tweets on Monday! Christ’s evaluation will be right and eternal.

What an Evening!!

It happened again last night. Three couples gathered on our back porch and had a special evening of fellowship, exhortation, encouragement, edification, laughter, tears, and sharing.

What made it such an awesome evening? Was it the back porch setting? How about the beautiful sunset? Perhaps the delicious cake and coffee? Could it have been the stories that were told? Indeed, all of these things played an important role.

So, what was the ingredient that made the evening so rich? Simply this . . . three couples gathered around the Word of God.

It happens every week. We open our Bibles, read through a passage of Scripture, and then work our way through the verses letting the Holy Spirit teach us in context, observation, interpretation and application. Never do we share “what we think the passage says,” but as the Author intended for us to understand. As the leader, I simply ask questions, explain some words, and guide the discussion, but it is the Word does the work.

Our lives have been so enriched by the Word! We have come to relish our familial relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ through the Word! The honesty and transparency has risen each week because of the Word! Then our time of prayer is one of precious communion prepared by the Word!

Whether you are involved in a small group or it’s just you and your spouse or your family or with your co-worker at lunch or in the church building on Sunday, the best gathering is always around the Word of God!

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.
(Psalm 19:7-11)

Already looking forward to the next time we gather . . . around the Word!

The Scenic Route in Marriage

No beach trip this summer . . . bummer!! For several years, my wife and I have begun the summer season with a trip to North Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head Island.

Well. thanks to COVID, our plans, like yours, have been constantly rearranged. Oh well , , , we have just continued on the scenic route in our marriage.

Since I love to drive, and my wife likes to ride, we have enjoyed many, many journeys over the years. Some short, some medium and some very long. No matter, every trip is an event, an adventure on the scenic route.

This past Saturday night, I told my wife to bring a change of clothes to church on Sunday and be prepared to head out after our morning ministries.

Watagua Lake has been our “most-go-to place” since the middle of March, so the destination decision was not difficult. Our afternoon trip began with an “On the Go Order” from Dunkin Donuts for refreshing iced tea. Then it was a stop at KFC for a four-piece grilled chicken dinner to go. Our favorite spot at the lake is Watagua Point. Since it was Labor Day weekend, all the picnic tables were taken. No problem. We grabbed our camping chairs and found a somewhat shady spot with a fabulous view of the lake and the mountains in the background. Just being together was all we needed.

After dinner, Denise took a nap, and I read. We chatted, prayed, took pictures, went for a walk, shared the blessings from the morning church gatherings, and just enjoyed being together.

The key to taking the scenic route in marriage is just simply enjoying the journey and most of all, the one you are with!! We made memories. We made an intentional investment in our marriage. We held hands, kissed, and hugged each other. As we say, “We like us!”

No matter whether your beach trip has been cancelled or COVID has rearranged your plans, you are still married. Make the investments. Enjoy the scenic route.

On the Edge of Our Seats!

(NASA Photo)

“Hurricane Laura could potentially cause weekend issues in TN!”

“News Reveals Who’s Likely to Lose Power with Laura”

Breaking News!

In no way am I belittling or making light of the devastating effects of a storm or of the reporting of news events. What gets my attention is that instantaneous news information from around the world keeps us on edge. There’s no moment to rest.

Sadly, much of the headlines are potentialities and prognostications. Once again, bait material to keep you coming back for more and to keep you on the edge of your seats.

Even worse, the land of “what if’s” or “could be’s” is a land of worry, fear, regret, and failure. It is not dwelling in Truth.

Now, here’s absolute Truth that should keep you on the edge of your seats!

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:1-6)

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:52-57)

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:1-5)

This is news that will one day occur, that will break through the skies! This is not breaking news to alarm but to give joy-filled anticipation!

Today, I am on the edge of my seat looking for the Lord’s return and the joys of eternity, but I am at rest in doing so. You see, this is absolute truth, and Jesus will return just like He said . . . on time and at the right time!

The Views Are Magnificent!

COVID, masks, social distancing, 6 feet, signs to tell me where to stand, restrictions, regulations, no football, protests, riots, fake news, lies, cynicism, murders, hatred, fear, loneliness, seclusion, death, etc. That’s the world we are living in right now. We read about it everyday, see it in town, hear about it from others, and are constantly notified via social media.

In the midst of it all, my greatest need each day is time in the presence of my Lord reading His Word, sharing my heart in prayer and listening to His response. For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4).

Recently, my heart needed one of my favorite spots to meet with the Lord. It is aptly named, Beauty Spot. Located in Unicoi County, TN, on the AT, the views are 360 degrees, the quiet is so calming, and the distractions of life below are removed.

As I opened my camping chair and my Bible, Psalm 121 became food for my weary soul.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help.
2 My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

My journal is a dear companion to me, and I began to write as the Word spoke to my heart.

I will – An action from the heart based upon who Jehovah is and my need.

Lift up my eyes – I must look above my troubles and see the Lord, high and lifted up and not on earthly things, people, etc.

To the hills from which comes my help. My help comes from the Lord Who made heaven and earth – The hills have no power to help me, but they resoundingly speak of the character and greatness of their Creator, Jehovah Elohim!

Sitting there enjoying the breeze and the stillness, I pondered the beauty and majesty of Unaka Mt., Rich Mt., Buffalo Mt. and others and the following thought came to my mind. When I lift my eyes to the hills for help, I can gaze at Mt. Mercy, Mt. Love, Mt. Power, Mt. Joy, Mt. Presence, Mt. Omnipotence, Mt. Omniscience, Mt. Faithfulness, Mt. Refuge, Mt. Grace, Mt. Righteousness and these transcendent peaks go on-and-on!!! Also, in Christ, I am always at the summit!! Positionally, I am at God the Father’s right hand!!

My friend, today, will you lift up eyes to the hills? Will you fix your gaze on the One Who made heaven and earth? The view is always thrilling, always praise-worthy, always magnificent!!!

Are You Listening?

Is COVID-19 the judgment of God? We do not know nor can we know without reservation from Scripture. It may be, but God does not say so. Now, Matthew 24:7-8 speaks of the signs of the times in reference to the first half of the tribulation. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Certainly, the coronavirus could be characterized by pestilences, but we cannot say it is a judgment of God in 2020.

So, what then is COVID-19 saying to us? Echoing back to Matthew 24:7-8, it is a reminder that such a day is coming; that the tribulation (Revelation 6-18) will occur. Above all, COVID-19 is God speaking to us and calling us to repentance.

Note these words recorded in Luke 13:1-5, There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

How easy it is for us to look at others in world as worse sinners than we are and say, “God is judging them!” Note that Jesus goes right on by that scenario and calls everyone to repentance, I tell you, . . . unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Unbeliever, wake up to the fact that unless you repent, turn from anything and everything you have been believing in for salvation, you will perish. Jesus says, I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).

Is COVID-19 the judgment of God? Can’t say, but it is the mercy of God giving you, sinner friend, another opportunity to repent and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior! Don’t delay!

For information on how you can become a genuine follower of Christ, please watch the following: