Highlights of 2022

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits (Psalm 103:1-2).

Looking back over this year, these familiar words can be uttered from my heart as if I just heard them for the very first time. My, how good the Lord has been through all the ups and downs, triumphs and trials, laughter and lessons, provisions and pruning, and times of waiting and answers to prayer of 2022. He is the constant, faithful, grace-filled, mercy-bestowing, ever-loving, immutable One Who is worthy of all praise and thanksgiving!!

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Retired & Disconnected

As I entered the bakery, I noticed an older man seated by the fireplace engrossed in his book. He looked up at me as I entered. The rain was coming down in buckets, so I jokingly said, “It’s wet out there!” He commented with a chuckle, and with that, we begin a conversation.

After retirement in another state, he had moved to this area. What he said next really caught my attention. He said, “I think I retired too early. I have no purpose in life.”

Sadly, the dream of retirement leaves far too many disappointed, disillusioned, and deteriorating.

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He Adores Her

Feeble and weak, he shuffled a bit wobbly toward the couch carrying a prized possession. In my 89 year old father-in-law’s hand was a photo mousepad. As he sat down on the couch next to me he said, “This is a picture of Mil (Mildred) and me after our first date.” He then proceeded to tell, with great delight, a bit of laughter, and a tear of joy how he got his sister to sit in the back seat of the car so the girl of his dreams would join him in the front seat. And as they say, “The rest is history.”

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Get Off the Interstate: Picnic for Two With a View

A hurry-up life-style results in a throwaway culture.

Chuck Swindoll

Indeed, many, many marriages are thrown away or put-on-the-back-burner because of the hurried pace and expectations of today’s society. There’s little time to develop attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize the culture of a good, godly marriage.

So, I offer a simple solution that can have positive “cultural” effects by way of two examples. If you don’t live in East Tennessee or travel these roads, just adapt to your neck-of-the-woods!

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But We’ll Be Late! | The Pastor’s First Ministry

There she was, sleeping so soundly. After a very draining week emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually, my wife was snuggled securely in bed in a deep slumber.

“What time is it? What day is it?” Those were her words when I awakened her.

Slowly she crawled out of bed and began to make herself ready for the day.

What day was it? Sunday.

What time was it? Suffice it to say, she had overslept!! Didn’t hear her alarm either.

We have pre-service prayer meeting on Sundays at 8:30. As I watched the clock and began to fix her a to-go breakfast, she came down the stairs. My wife was ready to go to church on the outside, but I could see that she was not on the inside. And based upon my ever present “I’ll fix this situation” manhood, I declared, “I’ll go on ahead, and you can come in your Jeep.”

Wait a minute! It’s raining, she’s fighting off a migraine, and she is definitely not crusin’ along on all eight cylinders.

It was then and there that my first ministry captured my attention. Serving my wife was more important than being at prayer meeting on time. She had no business driving by herself. She needed her husband. She needed her pastor. She needed her friend.

Pastors, Christian leaders, missionaries, we are so prone to put the ministry above our wives, leaving her in the dust with her brood as she carries seven diaper/book bags, Bibles, a purse, and wearing her “running shoes” to keep up with you. I mean, after all, you are the pastor and you must be there to open the door and lead in prayer! What will people think if you are late!!!

Men, you know the words of Matthew 22:37-39 quite well. May I encourage you to remember that your wife is your neighbor. She is to be loved more than your church congregation (Ephesians 5:25). Your ministry to your wife, and your church member, I might add, is an example to all the other believers. She is your first ministry.

Fighting the urge to drive a bit more aggressively and take some of the curves on two wheels, we had a nice, easy and enjoyable journey.

Interesting enough, folks gathered for prayer as always, and . . . we were the second ones in the parking lot. No harm done. Compassionate, caring love shown to my wife.

Thank You, Lord, for stopping me in my tracks and reminding me what is of greater value.

“C’mon, Hon. Take your time. I’ll wait. Let’s go together.”

Twitter and Humility

In today’s social media world, anyone can become a celebrity in a matter of seconds! Post a video or tweet or reel that grabs the attention of many in a short span of time, and you can have “rock start” status!

A word of caution, if I may . . . there is only one celebrity, one individual that is worthy of undivided attention, one person that is to be lauded, followed and worshipped. His name is the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5-11).

There is only one celebrity!

If we are truly born again (John 3:1-18), a follower of Jesus Christ (Luke 14:26), then He lives in us to live His life out of us (John 14:20; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27). This is the preeminent status for us in this life! This is who we really are.

Therefore, let’s be careful when and if our numbers begin to climb that our pride is not stroked by how many followers or commenters we have. Any influence in this world we have only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit as He exalts the Lord Jesus Christ for the glory and honor of God the Father!!

Remember the words of John the Baptist . . . He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).

Faithfulness and loyalty to God is much more important than being a celebrity.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Get Off the Interstate: Meals, Lodging & Strolls in Weaverville, NC

“So teach us to number our days” prays Moses as recorded in Psalm 90:13. Not years but days. So much is missed in our life if we do not live in the moment, the day, and enjoy the scenic route!!

So you’re travelling on Interstate 26 between Asheville, NC, and Johnson City, TN. Exchange the hustle and bustle of four-lane life for a slower change of pace. Here you go!

Well-Bred Bakery

Nestled on the corner of N. Main and Florida Street, you will enter a piece of bakery paradise!

For breakfast, how about the Quiche which comes in three flavors or the Chorizo Breakfast Burrito or . . . have mercy, the Pecan Streusel Roll!!!

Coffee? Yes . . . Jamaican Me Crazy!!

For lunch, I highly recommend their Turkey Pretzel Roll or Grilled Cheese and if available, the Tomato Soup!

Don’t leave without taking a Ginger Molasses Cookie or a Mountain Éclair to enjoy later.

There is limited outdoor seating on the front sidewalk and along Florida Street.

Many times over the years I have left the interstate for a coffee and cookie at Well Bred!!

You will want to stroll the couple of blocks on either side of Well-bred on Main Street of this cozy community.

Stoney Knob Cafe

Be ready for eclectic décor and excellent food! Their website says it well!

Begin with a trendy location just 10 minutes from Asheville, NC. Stir in a whimsical blend of artifacts and artful spaces. Season with provocative offerings of American, Greek and European cuisine. Add a dash of funk and a smidgen of comfy cool. Top it off with owners who bring tremendous heart and skill to the table, treating you more like family. Garnish with smiles all around.

Denise and I, and friends, have tried many of their menu offerings over the years and have never been disappointed. For lunch, I suggest the Jamaican Shrimp Wrap or Tacos Pescado. For supper, how about the Meatloaf or Salmon or Chicken Piccatta!!

I’m ready to stop typing and head on down the road to the Knob!!!

Sourwood Inn

You have to be going there on purpose to find it, but once you drive down the lane, you are surrounded by the stillness of it all! Yes, you are tucked away from busy life, yet you are minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway and the uniqueness of Asheville, NC.

Our stay included the Trillium Room, which had a great view, plus playing ping pong and pool. Rest and enjoying each other’s company was enhanced by the sitting room and a walk around the property. This would be a great place for a birthday or anniversary celebration!

So, number your days. Live in the moment. Plan or be spontaneous!

Scenic Route Marriage Tip: Husbands, you may be wired to get from point A to point B in the quickest, shortest time possible. Unwire and surprise your wife with an intentional get-out-of-the-car-nofastfood meal or get a cookie and coffee and enjoy time seated on the sidewalk with your sweetheart! Live today!

It’s A Mad, Mad World!

That’s my impression from my stroll down the main drag of Gatlinburg, TN, recently.

  • Few people smiling or laughing.
  • Harsh words being spoken to others, especially to children and other family members.
  • One woman spewing out foul language because she has pulled into a blocked street and folks are not “parting the Red Sea” for her to back out onto Parkway.
  • Impatience on display.
  • Many store clerks looking like their job is a misery to their soul.
  • T-shirts declaring the woe-filled and proud hearts of so many.

All this and more in one of the vacation capitols of America!

This is supposed to be “the happy place!” Right?

Really????

But, this is the case almost everywhere you go today. Why?

1. Man tries to fill his empty, eternal soul with temporal, earthly things. There is nothing in the world that will ever completely satisfy mankind. There may be momentary satisfaction, but it leaves a desire for more or something else.

In the midst of all this unhappiness, I saw new attractions, new restaurants, a gazillion moonshine stores (Isn’t that what brings great joy, so we’re told????), new stores, new products on the shelves, etc. This should make people happy, full of joy, right?

2. Man without a personal relationship with Christ does not have the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:19-24)

As my wife and I strolled up and back down Parkway, our hearts were saddened and grieved by the thousands who are choosing to live this way without the Prince of Peace, The Joy of Jesus, the Savior of our souls.

May I encourage you to read the three links given in the last sentence above?

When the angel announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds in the field, his first words were “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10). That “great joy” was the truth that the God who had seemed far off had come to them in human flesh. He was to be called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us” (Isaiah 9:6–7; Matthew 1:23). Those who saw Him saw the face of God (John 14:9). He had come to rescue, to save, to heal, and to make mankind right with God (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:17–21). That was cause for great joy! (gotquestions.org/joy-to-the-world)

The only cure for a mad, mad world is the Gospel! The Good News!!

(Photo from trekearth.com)