Life Is Never Boring

Back yard

A peek into my Thursday:

Up at 5:30.

Dunkin Donuts coffee, time in the Word and prayer on my back porch while watching the fog roll in. . . and then out.

Write in my journal.

Send out a few texts to encourage others.

See pictures of a new grandbaby of one of our church family.

Take coffee to my wife.

Read the newspaper, my wife and daughter’s blog, and a few tweets.

Add a few pictures to our church Facebook page.

See what’s been happening in the world via World Magazine site.

Receive an encouraging word from an “everydayer” texter.

Communicate with a missionary concerning an upcoming visit in September.

Talk to a guest speaker who is coming this Sunday night to preach.

Send anniversary greetings to one of my dear friends.

Help my wife a bit in the kitchen as she prepares food to minister to a burdened soul.

Rejoice over answered prayer!!!  Watch God at work!!

Put some of the final touches on Sunday AM’s message.

Leave a “Love is . . . ” cartoon for my wife on the towel covering the freshly baked bread.

Receive a phone call that brings tears of joy!!

Lunch on the back porch.

Begin working on Ephesians study.

Hurt for the tragedy in Barcelona, Spain.

Get rid of a stack of stuff that is not necessary.

Answer emails.

See some church family in the parking lot of a local store.  The smiles on their boys’ faces was priceless.

Listen to, counsel and pray with two lives that are bent and broken under the load of sin.  Grateful for the healing balm of God’s Word.

Watch others minister to the hurting.

Disciple a new believer.

Listen to a song that causes my heart to rejoice because the song repeats the phrase, “In the middle of it all, there is Jesus.”

Share a few thoughts for Sunday’s bulletin.

Enjoy an Ale-8.

Count blessings.

Reflect on some of my reading from this morning in 2 Kings 3 where Elisha tells King Jehoshaphat, For thus says the LORD, . . . This is a light thing in the sight of the LORD (3:17-18).

Have watched God at work all day through the mundane and the important.  Nothing is too hard for our God. It is always a light thing for Him because “in the middle of it all, there is Jesus.”

Ready to Face the World

Bible Reading

As we proceeded around the small group circle last night in Prayer Meeting, one person after another shared a passage of Scripture from their Wednesday morning time with the Lord.  What stood out to me was how many of them followed up the reading of that passage by saying, “And later on in the day, I had an issue come up that my morning scripture reading addressed.”  Or, “Later on in the day, I was engaged in conversation with someone who needed what the Lord gave me from His Word this morning.”  Or, “I was fearful over a situation today but thinking on Truth stabilized me.”

Read these words carefully:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16).

Yesterday morning, my time in the Word covered so many examples of God giving clear direction to His people (i.e. Micaiah in 1 Kings 22; Elijah, 2 Kings 1; Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. 20; Joseph, Matt. 2).  What an encouragement these passages were to my heart as I sat at the lunch table with other leaders from our church discussing future ministry and needing God’s guidance.

There are many reasons to daily read and meditate on the Word of God, but suffice it to say that you and I need God’s Word to teach, rebuke, correct and instruct so that we are prepared for today.

What did God say to you from His Word this morning?  Watch for how He will use it later on in your day.

The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130).

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

The Gospel Family

 

AFrica 7

Different languages and accents.  Various colors of skin.  Diverse worship styles. Different college backgrounds.  Varied cultural differences.

Africa 4

That’s what I saw in South Africa and Malawi among the natives, the missionaries, the transplants and the travelers.

Africa 5

Whether it was on a plane, in a mission compound, in a Sunday morning service, at a café for breakfast, in the middle of a bunch of teens, or gathered at a camp, I saw something that touched my heart in some very special ways.  It was a foretaste of Revelation 5:8-9 which reads,

Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll,

And to open its seals;

For You were slain,

And have redeemed us to God by Your blood

Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

For sixteen days I had the blessed privilege to experience the multi-faceted family of God all radically changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ; people from varying tribes and tongues and people and nations.

Africa 6  Africa 3

The family of God needs no introductions; our spirit bears witness with each other (Romans 8:16).

The family of God doesn’t see race but grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The family of God loves one another (John 13:35).

The family of God honors one another (Romans 12:10).

The family of God rejoices and weeps together (Romans 12:15).

The family of God serves one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

The family of God encourages each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Why? Because of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!! (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Peter 3:9).  What an awesome family around the world from every tribe, tongue, people and nation that will one day gather around the Throne in Heaven!!

From a Pastor’s Heart,

dale

I Surrender!

Paardeberg Mt. Retreat 1
Paardeberg Mt. Retreat, South Africa – 1st Evening of Camp

“How would you like to go to Africa for 16 days and serve with CampsAbroad in South Africa and Malawi?”

“Do what? Are you kidding me? Wow!  How cool would that be? Wow!”

My heart started racing a bit, my mind going from hither and yon.

After some explanation about the trip, some info about travelling to a third-world country, and the dates, I said I would pray about it, but I already knew I might as well be packing my bags.

Africa 1
Traveling north to Mzuzu, Malawi

Of course, I said yes.  (How interesting that those sixteen days were completely empty on my calendar, which is rare. Also, the initial call came on the first day of our evangelism training conference at the church I pastor.)

As I considered all we had talked about, I must admit there was a bit of fear . . . fear of the unknown.  Where would we be sleeping?  What would we eat?  How would we travel?  How long would our flights be?  Could I be gone from Denise for 16 days?  Dan had travelled to Malawi four years ago, but we were headed north to be with folks neither of us knew. Questions upon questions, and . . . they all centered around me.

Then one morning, the Lord led me to Luke 18:29-30,

So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

No more questions.  Truth is, when you are a follower of Christ living for eternity with eternal values and for God’s glory, there are no questions, fears, worries, doubts, just a “Yes, Lord; I surrender.”

Surrender to the will of God is the best choice . . . always.  As for God, His way is perfect (Psalm 18:30).

Are you willing to leave all for Christ?  Remember, when you do, the present and eternal gain is perfect.  You will never regret following Christ!

My Greatest Heartache in Ministry

 

Africa Camp 1

For the past two weeks I have savored the awesome blessing of spending the first half of the month of July in Africa serving the Lord, seeing souls saved, and ministering together with dear brothers and sisters in Christ through the ministry of The Wilds Camps Abroad!  This trip to South Africa and Malawi was a definite “get-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone” trip.  Although I had made other mission trips, I had never visited a third-world country.

Since coming home, I have intentionally entered in my journal my “take-aways” from this journey.  One in particular stands out to me above all others.  I am ashamed to admit it, but I must say that before this trip, I had prayed, but I had not prayed so fervently, so frequently, so specifically, and as trustingly as I did while in Africa.

Without reservation, all that we experienced by the hand of the Lord was absolutely in direct response to prayer!  We watched God answer in so many ways, and we had a “front-row seat” to watch it happen for His glory and our good!!

Africa Camp 2

 

For instance, without going into great detail, after three days of training the nationals how to operate a teen camp, the first day arrived with great anticipation but a bit of fear of the unknown.  It’s 8:00 a.m.  Where are the campers? We looked out in the yard of the mission compound to see only one teen camper.  You read that correctly . . . one teen camper.  Undaunted but not knowing how to gather more teens, Dan, our leader make the absolute best decision.  He looked at all of the workers and said, “Let’s gather in small groups and PRAY for GOD to bring in campers.”  That’s exactly what we did.

As our group cried out to God for a manifestation of Jeremiah 33:3, for God to surprise us, He did exactly as He promised!

Within 30 minutes or less, the gates to the mission compound opened and a pick-up truck laden with a bunch of eager teens entered the grounds.  Moments later, the scene was replayed.  Eventually, we had 88 teens to begin our first day of camp!!  We saw God at work!! What a time of praise we had as we then saw some of those precious souls hear the gospel and respond to the call of salvation!!

Africa Camp 3.jpg

You may be puzzled as to why I have entitled my post “My Greatest Heartache in Ministry” when the past few paragraphs have been about God’s amazing work in my heart and the lives of others.  Quite frankly, I will say that my greatest heartache in ministry is the lack of prayer among God’s people . . . me included.

I’ve seen folks get up way early to be at church to go on some church fellowship trip.  I’ve seen believers pack out an auditorium or outdoor arena to hear their favorite singer or group and sometimes pay a hefty price for the ticket (Oh, and drive two hours to get there.) I’ve seen church members not miss a business meeting so they could vote their way.  And on and on I could go, but ask a group of believers to attend a prayer meeting, a prayer advance, or even pray, and . . . well, you know the rest of the story.

When are we as believers who have the very ear of our Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent God (Psalm 34:17), the blood-bought invitation by our Righteous Advocate and Great High Priest to enter into the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:14-16: 1 John 2:1-2), and the Holy Spirit to intercede for us (Romans 8:26), when are we going to make prayer a blessed, expectant, humble, dependent, relational priority of our lives?

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting (1 Timothy 2:1-8)

From a pastor’s heart,

dale

We’re Still Havin’ Fun!

0512161945_hdr.jpg

Today, Denise and I celebrate 36 years of marriage!  What a ride!  We’ve had our “ups” as we anticipated what may come ahead, our “downs” that almost took our breath away, and “twists and turns” that had us leaning against each other and the Lord with our hands in the air or holding on for dear life!

Truth is, the journey has been, is, and will continue to be fantastic!!  Outside of my personal relationship with God the Father through Christ Jesus alone (John 3:16; 10:28-30; Romans 10:9-13), being married to my precious, adorable sweetheart has been the best part of my life!

Having said that, today has not turned out as expected or planned.  Our original destination for two nights was a beautiful bed & breakfast tucked back in the woods along Watts Bar Lake, Whitestone Inn.  That had to be cancelled Monday morning.

Plan #2 was the option of a) Brunch at Well-Bred Bakery, Weaverville, NC, and then Afternoon Tea at the Biltmore Inn, followed up with a drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway to a cottage on Watauga Lake, or b) Brunch at Blackbird Bakery, Bristol, VA and dinner at The Mast Farm Inn, Valle Crucis, NC, with a stay at the cottage.  That had to be cancelled last night.

For a long time now, I have cut out the Love Is cartoons from the newspaper (Yes, I still read a daily newspaper!), and leave them somewhere for Denise.  Today’s cartoon sums up our 36th Anniversary.

Love Is cartoon

No matter, we are still havin’ fun . . . even though Denise has been sick since last Thursday with last night being the worst. (Doesn’t sound like much fun to her, I’m sure, bless her heart.)

What a gal!  Even though she didn’t feel good, she got up, fixed her hair, did the makeup routine, and put on something she knew I liked and would be comfortable for her.  I “scolded” her for going to such trouble, but her reply, “I wanted to look good for you on our anniversary.”  Tear in the eye right there and an enlarged heart!  She’s a keeper!!

Near noon she said in the words of Pooh Bear, “My tummy’s rumbling.”  “What sounds good to you,” I asked.  Her reply surprised me, “Onion rings!”  Well, that demanded a take-out order from Cheddar’s for a World-Class Chicken sandwich, cole slaw, and onion rings.  As we sat on the back porch, one of our most favorite spots in the world, we enjoyed our meal, although she didn’t eat much, and I read my anniversary card from her.  . . tears and an enlarged heart, again!

Today is a very special day for us, and we like to make much of special days.  But in reality, today is like any other day because being married to Denise is special and marriage is very special.  That’s why we work at it every day, seriously.

We’re still havin’ fun, and she’s still the one . . . ‘til death do us part or Christ comes in the rapture (1Thessalonians 4:13-18).

What’s fun special about your marriage today?  It’s your choice.

From a pastor’s heart,

Dale

winnie-pooh-quote-3

Motion Songs, Scripture Memory & Joy-Filled Believers

kids_at_church

Last night in prayer meeting, we shared in a family-friendly service.  After singing a couple of gospel songs, one by request, we had the kids up front leading the singing of some good, old children’s songs, two of which had motions.  It was fun to look back at the adults who were doing the motions as well, especially on singing “Only a Boy Named David.”

After singing “Boys and Girls for Jesus” we took prayer requests for the unsaved.  How precious to hear these children and adults mention their loved ones, friends, and neighbors’ names.  We then broke up into small groups with adults and children praying out loud for the lost.  How sweet to hold a 4 year old boy in my lap as he prayed in his own precious way, and it was not a short prayer either.

When we gathered back together, we sang the old gospel song, “I Love to Tell the Story.”

I’ve challenged our congregation to memorize Ephesians 4:1-16 over the next two months.  Hence, we then worked on 4:1-3 as a family or in small groups.  The drill was to say 4:1-3 five times aloud in unison as a group.  Then, one person in each group would take the lead in saying the passage leaving out words for the rest of the group to fill in.  This was a blast!  The laughter and joy of memorizing Scripture was so cool!  Then some of folks stood and recited 4:1-3 which was followed by encouraging applause.

We then took Ephesians 4:1 and broke it down word-for-word learning the meaning and the application.  How cool to watch everyone search through Ephesians 1-3 to find what Paul meant when he said in 4:1 to walk worthy of the vocation to which you are called.  The kids did a great job with their answers straight from Scripture.

What a precious time we had as a church family in community last night.

The ice cream treat with my wife and the sunset afterwards was an added blessing, too!

From a pastor’s heart,

Dale

All the Questions of Life

Questions

Where do you go when you don’t know what to do?

Who do you call first when you receive devastating news?

When you need wisdom for a major decision, what is your first response?

When your world comes crashing down around your feet, where do you run to hide?

For all of the questions of life, who do you ask or whom do you seek?

Every day of our lives, we are faced with decisions and/or unanswered questions and/or needing a sign post to point us the way and/or a place of shelter from the storm.  For all situations of life, for all the questions of life, and for all the unknowns of life, will you meditate on the following?  I believe you will see the answer in these passages to the questions of life.

Therefore submit to God. . . . Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:7-8, 10)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28)

97Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the ancients,
Because I keep Your precepts.
101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.
102 I have not departed from Your judgments,
For You Yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
  (Psalm 119:97-104)

And he (Christ) is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

After meditating on these passages, listen to I Run to Christ

Keeping Your Marriage Fresh – Part 2

Dale & Denise

So what did you do yesterday to add some freshness to your marriage?  Here’s six more suggestions to help you get fresh with each other!

  1. Work at your marriage every day. Marriage is never static; it never runs on auto-pilot.  You are either making deposits or withdrawals.  It’s the little things you do each day that make the big things you do, big!  Little things like:
  • A love note on the bathroom mirror (dry erase marker).
  • Opening the car door for your wife.
  • A wink across the room.
  • A dance step or two on Aisle 5 at Kroger’s when you hear a love song being played.
  • A lingering kiss on the curb of the parking lot before leaving the restaurant or on the porch just as you arrive home from that romantic date night. (Be sure to ask the hostess for a corner table)
  • Saying, “I love you.”
  1. Read books about marriage. Men, it has been said, “Leaders are readers.” Since you are the leader in your relationship, I recommend a new book by Robert Wolgemuth, Like the Shepherd, Leading Your Marriage With Love and Grace.   Ladies, my wife suggests the book What’s It Like to Be Married to Me?: And Other Dangerous Questions by Linda Dillow.
  2. Put down your smartphone and talk. Enough said.
  3. Have a set time for the children to go to bed. They are precious souls, but they can be a major hindrance to a healthy marriage.  They need their rest; your marriage needs your undivided attention.  By the way, make sure the kiddos sleep in their own bed . . . not with you.  One day you will have to say “good-bye” to them.  When you do, you want a fresh marriage not a “and who are you?” marriage.
  4. Get out of that rut! If you have been married for any length of time, there’s the potential for a rut-marriage.  So make some plans to be creative.
  • Try some different foods for supper.
  • Take a different route home; not the logical way. Enjoy the journey.
  • Sit on the same side of the booth at a restaurant.
  • Do something wild & crazy!
  • Enjoy intimacy at a different time of the day . . . make it a surprise!
  1. Take care of yourself. As you age, things start to shift and your body changes.   Watch what you eat.  Exercise.  Stay healthy.

Marriage is a grace gift from God.  Be sure to steward this gift in a way that will glorify Him and encourage your spouse.  The Lord will help you if you seek His face.  He wants your marriage to be the best.

So, stay fresh by getting’ fresh with each other, again.  If you need further inspiration, read Song of Solomon.