Sing With Shiloh!

1 Who is he born in the stall,
at whose feet the shepherds fall?
Who is he in deep distress,
fasting in the wilderness?
Refrain:
‘Tis the Lord, O wondrous story!
‘Tis the Lord, the King of glory!
At his feet we humbly fall,
crown him, crown him, Lord of all!
4 Lo! at midnight, who is he
prays in dark Gethsemane?
Who is he upon the tree
dies in grief and agony? [Refrain]
5 Who is he that from the grave
comes to heal and help and save?
Who is he that from his throne
rules thro’ all the world alone? [Refrain]

Tears of joy ran down my face Sunday morning as we congregationally sang the rich text of Who Is He in Yonder Stall?. As the full song recounts the life of Christ, the refrain resounds with praise and attention given to the Lord Jesus Christ in His humiliation and kingship! Indeed, He alone is worthy of our worship!

Joy also flowed because this was my first Sunday back in church since November 28th due to covid.

But that’s not all. Joy welled up in my heart in response to the congregation singing! From my vantage point on the back row, it sounded like a full choir seated in the pews ringing out praises to our matchless Savior and Lord!

Folks, that’s the way it should be in every Sunday gathering! Indeed, I am grateful for every aspect of music ministry in a service, but a congregation singing with all their hearts to the Lord is hard to beat! As each believer thinks through the words of each song while focusing their attention on singing to the Lord and to one another, something grand occurs . . . worship, discipleship, praise, presence, conviction, unity, encouragement, emotion and adoration! The issue is not talent but a heart engaged in proclaiming the greatness of our God and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!

If you want an example of what I am describing, you need to join me on Sunday morning as my five year old grandson, Shiloh, gives uninhibited praise to God! Yesterday, he joined in as we sang:

I rejoice in my Redeemer
Greatest Treasure,
Wellspring of my soul
I will trust in Him, no other.
My soul is satisfied in Him alone.

(Keith & Kristen Getty)

After the service, several folks mentioned to his mom and my wife that they could hear Shiloh singing! Where did he learn to sing like that? By being in church watching others around him as well as the influence of his home.

God wants us to sing, and He wants to hear you sing!

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! (Psalm 95:1-2)

So, this Sunday, will you join with other believers around the world as well as those seated around you in singing praise to our God? I’m looking forward to singing with Shiloh this Sunday, too!

In the School Of COVID

“Sometimes we have to experience misunderstanding from unsympathetic friends in order to learn how to minister to others.” These were part of Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on Job 16:4, that resonated in my heart.

Seated by the fireplace reading, grounded again for the third Sunday in a row due to COVID, I found myself replacing the words “unsympathetic friends” with “COVID.”

“Sometimes we have to experience COVID in order to learn how to minister to others.”

How blessed I have been to be healthy for over two years with no colds and only my typical back issues. I’ve been hiking, running, navigating ministry through the pandemic, on and on and on! Then . . . everything changed in one day. Symptoms which led to a positive test, feeling miserable, infusion, recuperation.

What did I need to learn again? I needed a fresh reminder of what it looks like to be a minister of mercy/compassion just like Jesus as demonstrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ (Luke 10:34-35).

What does that look like? Well, here are some thoughts, in random order, that I jotted in my journal to remind me in the days to come.

  • Life changes so quickly . . . live in the moment. That may be all that’s left here. (James 4:14-15).
  • If the Lord nudges you to minister to someone, go. (Luke 10:34)
  • There are times when you are feeling so bad you do not have the energy to pray beyond, “Lord, help me!” If you are strong physically and spiritually, be sure to pray for those who are weak and weary. They need your intercession (James 5:16). Perhaps, call them . . . not to chit-chat but to simply say, “I want to pray with you, and then I’ll end the call.”
  • Ask the Lord to give you wisdom as to something beyond “If you need anything, call me!” 99% won’t call (I’m usually one of those); don’t want to be a bother or an inconvenience. Here are a few acts of service that I was blessed to receive recently: 1) Bring a meal. 2) Send a text saying, “I’m out at the store. What can I bring you?” or “I’m at Dunkin. Want a donut and coffee?” 3) Do some project around the yard or house. It was a refreshment to hear the lawn mower crank up in the front yard. 4) Drop by with some cookies/snacks or leave something in the mailbox or on the front porch.
  • Having said that, accept other’s offers to minister to you. The other night a meal was brought to our front door. Before departing, the gentleman said, “It sure feels good to be on this side of the door” (the giving side).
  • Send a text every other day or so. Sometimes the one who is suffering may not have the strength to read it and respond, but don’t be afraid to reach out, either. Perhaps a card of encouragement in the mail.
  • Store up the Word of God in your mind for times like these, when you’re too sick to read or listen to anything.
  • Consider the caregiver. He/she has picked up the ball for two people all the while serving the ill. They need encouragement and help, too.

How blessed to have a wonderful wife, our dear immediate family and loved ones, close friends, and our precious church family!! Most of all, oh, the goodness of God in the midst of stuff like COVID!

Yes, “sometimes we have to experience “COVID” in order to learn how to minister to others.” Thank You, Lord, for being patient with me and teaching me again to be moved with compassion.

Joy Has Dawned

Christmas Carolers at our door Sunday night!

Joy has dawned upon the world,
Promised from creation—
God’s salvation now unfurled,
Hope for ev’ry nation.
Not with fanfares from above,
Not with scenes of glory,
But a humble gift of love—
Jesus born of Mary.


Sounds of wonder fill the sky
With the songs of angels
As the mighty Prince of Life
Shelters in a stable.
Hands that set each star in place,
Shaped the earth in darkness,
Cling now to a mother’s breast,
Vuln’rable and helpless.


Shepherds bow before the Lamb,
Gazing at the glory;
Gifts of men from distant lands
Prophesy the story.
Gold—a King is born today,
Incense—God is with us,
Myrrh—His death will make a way,
And by His blood He’ll win us.


Son of Adam, Son of heaven,
Given as a ransom;
Reconciling God and man,
Christ, our mighty champion!
What a Savior! What a Friend!
What a glorious myst’ry!
Once a babe in Bethlehem,
Now the Lord of hist’ry.

Keith & Kristyn Getty

Cooped Up At Christmas

I am so glad my wife and I like each other.

We have spent many hours together this month due to my bout with covid.

So what have we done to merry up Christmas and keep our marriage on the scenic route?

  1. Trust in forgiveness and the grace of God. When you are not feeling well, you can be demanding and words can have an edge. Throw in our hearing issues, and . . . . Therefore, just like every day of marriage, you must rest in the grace of God and forgive, not apologize.
  2. Give each other space. My wife has taken up the hobby of water color painting. She has received refreshment from going to her craft room in the afternoons and/or evenings and losing herself in a winter scene.
  3. Read Paul David Tripp’s, Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional, that our daughter gave to us.
  4. Go for a drive just for some sunshine and a change of scenery. My wife’s Jeep is good for that. Now that I am gaining ground, I feel like driving. So, I’m her chauffer dropping her off at the door as I wait in the car.
  5. Movies. Denise and I are not TV watchers, but we have joined the ranks as we viewed many Christmas movies as well as some others. In the early going of this bout, I had to just sit and be still. No movement. We enjoyed White Christmas, Mrs. Miracle, The Christmas Edition, Elf, The Christmas Lodge, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Christopher Robin, Father of the Bride, It’s a Wonderful Life (my very first time), etc. Miracle on 34th Street awaits.
  6. 12 Days of Christmas. Denise and I have shared in this way of exchanging gifts several times over the years. For twelve days, before going to bed, we give a gift to each other. In the early days, we kept it to around $1-5 gifts. Of course, inflation has struck and it’s around $1-$20. How did I shop? Thank you Amazon delivery and Walgreen’s curbside pick-up services!
  7. Listen to hours of Christmas music via Amazon Music on Alexa. This has helped with a light-hearted atmosphere all through our home.
  8. Enjoy the fireplace at our meals.
  9. Share with each other what the Lord said to us through our daily Bible reading or sermon podcasts. This has been a blessing of joy, tears, conviction, challenge and encouragement.
  10. Nothing much. A few days, my wife was on her own. Well, she had Liza Jane, family communication, friends and the rigors of being a sweet caregiver. But as for us, some lonely hours.

Well, here it is two days before Christmas, and we still like each other! (And love one another, too!) God is so very good. Merry Christmas!!

The Season That Stole Christmas

The lights went out on the top and the bottom this year!!

There I sat with my car backed into the parking lot at Target in observation mode. Still in quarantine, my wife made her trek into Target to purchase a gift.

What did I observe? A steady of stream of shoppers entering and exiting their cars and the stores with sad, frowning, hardened faces. Some were walking briskly, some on a mission, others at a snail’s pace. And, what season of the year is this?

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”—Go ahead; sing it! You are hearing it in your head anyway!

It’s the celebration of good news of great joy that will be for all the people (Luke 2:11)!

Isn’t Christmas all about joy, cheer, good news, giving, laughter, family traditions, get-togethers, etc.?

As I watched, my finite mind could not fathom all the stories in front of me in this “season of joy.” Perhaps sudden job loss, death of a dear loved one, disappointment in not finding the right gift, the general frustrations of life, cancer diagnosis, home life issues, heart-crushing memories, failing marriages, brokenness, fear, rejection, dread, chaos, thoughts of suicide, sorrow, discontentment, etc.

In the midst of these stories of life, many hoping that this season might bring a little good news, a little cheer, a little “Tender Tennessee Christmas” to take off the edge of the pain, my mind considered my own current “covidness” and was once again reminded that this season is only a mere shadow of the Realty. If my heart is fixed on all the ingredients of the season, I miss the preeminent, transcendent Person of this day, this season, this year, and this life. At that point, I have fallen into idolatry; worshiping the creature (and what the creature creates here) more than the Creator (Romans 1:18-25).

You see, the only Story that can completely deal with the root cause of all “the fears of all the years,” which began in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), is the Reality of the living Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ Who stepped into your life to be your substitute on the cross (Isaiah 53:3-5; 1 Peter 3:18). Life is the Eternal Story, not a temporal season.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV).

Today, tomorrow, on Christmas Day, and the days to follow, listen to and meditate on the Story of hope and redemption, the salvation of your souls, in exchange for the shadows of the season. No matter how good they may be for now, they are only shadows.

Don’t let the season steal what Jesus came to give and restore!

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

Additional links for your encouragement today:

Cancelember

Cancel and debt. Two words that loom heavily over this Christmas 2021.

Debt looks like that long line of overloaded, bulging Sam’s Club carts at the exit door that probably won’t be paid off before next Christmas.

Cancel looks like our holiday season due to Covid.

  • Vacation (Cancelled)
  • Pigeon Forge/Dollywood Lights/Time with friends (Cancelled)
  • Hike (Cancelled)
  • Christmas shopping (Cancelled)
  • Haircut (Cancelled)
  • Perform wedding, Dec. 17-18 (Cancelled)
  • Christmas caroling (Cancelled)
  • Game date to Blackbird Bakery (Cancelled)
  • Getty Christmas Concert, Greenville (Cancelled)
  • December corporate worship with brothers & sisters in Christ (Cancelled)
  • And there is more, but . . .

Cancel and debt are GREAT words at Christmas! Quite frankly, what we would consider to be two negative, disappointing words are instead words that are full of hope and joy!

Christmas is preeminently and transcendently about the Lord Jesus Christ. Due to the sinful condition of mankind (Genesis 3; Romans 3:23), Christ in His glorious humiliation entered into the chaos of our depraved, full of death condition (Philippians 2:6-8) and cancelled the debt of our sin against us that He might reveal God to us (Matthew 1:21-23).

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him (Christ), having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (Colossians 2:13-15).

Christ came to experience all that experience, die for our sins, and then return to Heaven to represent us before the Father. He is willing to save and able to save (Warren Wiersbe). [Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:25]

Therefore because my life is secure in Christ today and for all eternity, the words “cancel” and “debt” remind me of Christmas, the Gospel!

On this day in “Cancelember” I can sing the following old song of praise and testimony!

He paid a debt He did not owe
I owed a debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sins away
And now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

My debt He paid upon the cross
He cleansed my soul from all its dross
I tho’t that no one could all my sins erase
But now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

O such great pain my Lord endured
When He my sinful soul secured
I should have died there but Jesus took my place
So now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

He didn’t give to me a loan
He gave Himself now He’s my own
He’s gone to Heaven to make for me a place
And now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

Clarity at Christmas

We are traditionally underwhelmed in America with the Christmas story and overwhelmed with distractions. The rise of endless events, the familiarity with the biblical accounts, and the innumerable Hallmark movies can add fuel to our A.D.D. culture. We keep looking for a new twist, an angle, or story that may provide some nostalgia moment or a feel-good afternoon.

The church is no different.

Year after year we find ourselves dealing with the same text and wondering what we will say about them this year. What more, or worse, what new can we add to the topic of Christmas.

For many, preachers have laid down their holiday sermons for continuing through whatever series they are in, and others try to take too much time to cover this yearly theme. In both cases, and in between, we see the necessity to deal with this season.

What we need is far from a plan or program, rather the ambition and boldness, not for novelty, but for clarity. Oh that we would have the eyes to see and still wonder a little at a star, unexpected grace, and unplanned visitations, and how we might be again captured by God who visits the lowly by Himself becoming low that we might know Him.

And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:16‬

Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:6-8‬

(Guest blog post by Stephen Caldwell, Adirondack Bible Chapel, Piseco, NY)

For the Loves of Your life

“Journals for the loves of your life.”

Well, this journal definitely nails one of them! “Foodies” would be a good way to describe our family when it comes to enjoying delicious, well-prepared food and good restaurants!! For us holidays, birthdays, and gatherings are all about the food!!!!

As I sit here with my fingers on the keyboard, my mind goes to various eating establishments that were and are bell-ringers such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Biltmore Inn Restaurant, Blackbird Bakery, Grove Park Blue Ridge Room, Timberlake’s, Ridgewood, Stoney Knob, Davis Ordinary, etc.

This reminds me why I want to challenge you to keep a journal of your daily walk with Christ. If recording where I enjoyed physical food is important and I want to remember it, how much better is being reminded of those days of spiritual food intake in relationship with Him Who is the Bread of Life (John 10).

Journaling has been an important part of my daily routine for several years. At top of each page, I log the day, date, temperature, weather condition, my running mileage, and/or anything noteworthy about that day. Underneath I record the scripture reading from the yearly reading plan. With a desire for the Lord to open my eyes to see wondrous things from His Word (Psalm 119:18), I record what He highlights. It may be one or two sentences or 1/2 page or more.

Each evening or the next morning, I record some bulleted events of the day. These are fresh reminders of God’s character and the fun of being a believer in Christ.

Once-in-awhile, I will pull down one of my journals from previous years. After scanning through the pages, I am always reminded of the goodness of God!

So, may I encourage you to keep a journal “for the loves of your life” which may include your spiritual walk, your favorite eating places, dates with your spouse, your travels, etc.?

Love the Lord will all heart (Matthew 22:37); love life; and keep track of “the loves of your life.”

Take a Breath!

As I entered the hair shop where my wife and I have gone for almost 20 years, two ladies were engaged in a gleeful “1,000 words-a-minute” conversation! With my loud voice, I interrupted this exchange and said, “Ladies! Take a breath!!” The room was filled with laughter, and I have since gained a friend in her 80’s who has not forgotten that moment. She’s a hoot anyway!

For most of us, we love to talk. We have something to say.

Question: Are you talking to the right people?

  1. You have a complaint. Do you talk to the person who is part of the problem or who is a solution to the problem? Or do you talk everyone else, filling your listener’s ears with your criticism?
  2. You have an issue/problem/misunderstanding with someone in your family. Do you discuss your “concern” with other family members rather than the family member with whom you have an issue/problem/misunderstanding?
  3. You disagree with church leadership on a decision. Do you talk to someone in leadership to get clarification and have your questions answered or do you speak to others in the church family to get their “viewpoint” and “prayer” on that decision?
  4. You have been offended/wronged/sinned against. Do you hold a grudge which develops into defiling bitterness and discuss this with anyone who will listen or do you forgive and not talk about that person? (Colossians 3:13; Hebrews 12:14-15)

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17)

Recently while chatting with someone in the store, they shared their negative thoughts, in passing, about someone that I have never met. Quite frankly, their comment soured our conservation in my mind. What do you suppose will come to my mind if I ever meet this person? Yes, those negative words.

Words are a gift from God and need to be stewarded faithfully. Take a breath, and let’s redirect our words to that which would minister grace to the hearer (Ephesian 4:29) and would be acceptable to God (Psalm 19:14).

(Photo from widjiitiwin.ca)

I Am Thankful . . .

Yesterday, my cousin in West Virginia forwarded the following to me. Here’s a portion of that email, written by Larry Pratt, for your encouragement on this Thanksgiving Day.

__________________________

Several years ago a good friend of ours, Mary, shared this following
email. It was found on a relative who had passed on. He had it printed
on a card that he carried in his wallet.

His name was Jim. He is dead now, but his message lives on. I hope
you enjoy it.

I am thankful . . . . . .

. . . . for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been
surrounded by friends.

. . . for the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have
enough to eat.

. . . for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and
gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.

. . . for all the complaining I hear about government because it means
we have freedom of speech.

. . . for the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means
I am capable of walking.

. . .for my huge heating bill because it means I am warm.

. . . for the lady behind me in church who sings off key because it
means I can hear.

. . . for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes
to wear.

. . . for weariness and aching at the end of the day because it means I
have been productive.

. . . for the alarm that goes off early in the morning because it means
that I am alive.

. . . for all the right and wrong in the world because it means I can tell
the difference.

_______________________________

May we, too, find our lives lived with an attitude of gratitude, a heart full of grace and words of continual praise to our God!

I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving (Psalm 69:30).

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 100).

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever (Psalm 107:1).

HAPPY, BLESSED, PRAISE-FILLED THANKSGIVING DAY!!!

Dale