No Rush!

This past Labor Day weekend was an extremely special family vacation with my wife, our two daughters and their husbands, and our two grandsons! So much could be said about our four days together; so many grace blessings!!! So many memories made!!

One sweet joy was the “bookends” of our family get together. And “What was that?” you ask. Well, it was the trip to and from our family vacation destination. Denise and I have been referring to our marriage for a long while now as “Taking the Scenic Route.” And, that’s what we did all along the way, both in and out of the car.

Our journey to Sevierville, TN, included the country backroads near us all the way to Bulls Gap, TN. There we stopped at one of our favorite places, Yoder’s Country Market. They flat know how to build a sandwich; it’s a two-hander, for sure!! Denise and I always share one, and it’s plenty! This time it was Cajun turkey, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, banana peppers, pickles, and I don’t remember what else, piled high on sour dough bread! We added some pretzels and a drink and then found a place at the table under the gazebo. The view is total country, rolling hills and mountains in the distance.

Not the sandwich described above, but you get the point. This is a Yoder’s sandwich.

Doing my best to stay off the interstate, we traveled I-81 for twelves miles and then gladly exited off through White Pine, to Dandridge, across Cherokee Lake, to Chestnut Hill to Sevierville, all on back roads taking the scenic route. No rush. Just enjoying each other’s company and the views!

Monday afternoon when we departed, we never hit the interstate at all. Our journey from Sevierville took us to Newport, with a jaunt down a side road at the foot of the Smokey Mountains through some beautiful, lush cow pastures and farmland and by an old mill, as well as a beautiful old white church on the hill. From Newport, we travelled to Greeneville, TN, accompanied with more mountain views, the Nolichucky River and a stop for CFA. We sat in the car with the windows down enjoying the food and the quiet. The final leg of the trip took us over Greene and Washington County backroad farmlands to home. No rush. Just enjoying each other’s company and the views!

Why do I share this? Because in the day in which we live, too many marriages are always in a rush! Time is not taken to just enjoy the journey; it’s all about getting to the destination!

Get off the interstate in your marriage. Slow down; soak up the moment. Don’t take your spouse for granted. And if you have children still at home, remember, you are constantly teaching them about marriage by your example. They will also feel secure at home when they know mom and dad really love one another!

God has blessed us with the ability to see, to speak His praises, and to savor all His creation!! How about taking the scenic route. No rush. Just enjoying each other’s company and the views . . . and for me, especially that beautiful view to my right!!

Hints: 1) Plan to take one route to your destination and a different one on the way back home. 2) The date/vacation/drive to the store, etc. begins when you pull out of the driveway and ends when you drive back into your garage.

A Little Bit of Heaven on Earth!

After eleven weeks of meeting through Zoom, the doors were opened yesterday at Boones Creek Bible Church to gather corporately. Wow! What an awesome experience of the grace of God! Indeed, as best as I can say, it was a little bit of heaven on earth (Revelation 4-5)!

Some of the highlights:

  • All the smiling, happy faces!! The laughter of children and adults! Even though many were reserved due to playing-it-safe, there was an atmosphere of joy-filled expectation. We had seen most folk on Zoom through the weeks, but nothing takes the place of being in person! You know, I get a glimpse of heaven through the precious Word of God, but one day, it will be in person! (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
  • Congregational singing!! Pastor Andrew directed us to consider our great God as we began the morning gathering singing, “Behold our God!” From there, we were exhorted to consider the only way to God and our position in Christ by singing “In Christ Alone.” Eleven weeks ago, the last song we sang corporately was “He Will Hold Me Fast.” Certainly, that is what God has done through these days of uncertainty. We finished with looking to the future by prayerfully singing, “Be Thou My Vision.” These songs came from asking our congregation to share a song that would sum up their personal testimony during COVID-19. Normally I sit on the front row and to hear the folks behind me singing was powerful!! Now I sing off-pitch at times, but in heaven, it will always be to God and in tune (Revelation 5)!
  • Visitors! How wonderful to see folks attending that our people had invited. I believe that this pandemic has awakened many to the issue of death. People want the Truth. What a joy to welcome new faces, to pray with them, to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to listen to their stories. The only sad note about today was those who refused to receive Christ as Savior. How wonderful it will be when see all our spiritual family in Glory, those who have received Christ alone for salvation (John 1:12). Visitors, no; family, yes!
  • Prayer! We saw God answer prayer today!! In Heaven, Christ is interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25) for us right now! We have continual access to the Throne through our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Although our hearts are heavy for the current upheaval in the streets of America and the continual effect of COVID-19, the Church should be a little heaven on earth as it exalts the One Who can change everything, Who makes life worth living, who is worship — the Lord Jesus Christ!!

Grace to Go!

Stretching out his hand and with tears in his eyes, he said, “Soon this hand will touch the hand of my Jesus.”

These words were spoken last Saturday by a dear man of God who has given his life to faithfully proclaim and live out the excellencies of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor Bud Parker has been diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor that is affecting his mobility and vision. As I sat by his side in his humble mountain home, the affects of cancer were readily seen, but the grace of God was much more manifest. It didn’t take long to realize I was seated in the presence of a man who is ready to go Home to Glory!

There were many more times of rejoicing than notes of sorrow as we conversed. During his lengthy stay in the hospital, the Lord enabled him to share the gospel with many, and three precious souls came to salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). We talked of the ministry joys of past years, the privilege of preaching the Word of God, the joy of mentoring so many men in the ministry, as well as rejoicing in all the folks who had come by to visit.

With his precious wife, Mildred, seated across the room, he looked at me and then her and said, “I am ready to go to heaven, but I don’t want to leave my bride of 58 years. The other night, the Lord spoke to me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid. She was My bride before she became your bride. She is the apple of my eye’.”

Especially at a time like this, the Word of God is the very best comfort, assurance, and hope. While reading 1 Peter 1:1-8, Pastor Parker’s eyes would glisten and then fill with tears. Some of the passages he quoted along with me as best he could. At one point, he raised his hand to rejoice!

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Near the end of our visit, I noticed that his wife, two of his daughters and other family members were on the front porch. I invited them to gather in the living room, and we sang a medley of songs about heaven. My, what a glorious time we had as we lifted our voices and hands in praise to our great God! Indeed, what a day it will be when our Jesus we will see!!

Watching the grace of God in its total sufficiency from my front row seat was an honor and a blessed encouragement! This dear man of God is living out the words of Tom Hayes’ song, New Grace.

All of grace is my story
All the way from earth to glory,
Since by grace He lifted me from sin and woe;
Living grace He has extended
As on Him my heart depended,
And He’ll give new grace when it’s my time to go.

CHORUS:
Grace not yet discovered,
Grace not yet uncovered,
Grace from His bountiful store;
Grace to cross the river,
And grace to face forever,
There’ll be new grace I’ve not needed before.

VERSE 2:
There’s been grace for every trial,
There’s been grace for every mile,
There’s been grace sufficient from His vast supply;
Grace to make my heart more tender,
Grace to love and pray for sinners,
But there’ll be new grace when it’s my time to die.

CHORUS:
Grace not yet discovered,
Grace not yet uncovered,
Grace from His bountiful store;
Grace to cross the river,
And grace to face forever,
There’ll be new grace I’ve not needed before.

Grace to go!!

Clippin’ Grace Coupons

The complete life of a believer in Christ is all about grace.  We deserve an eternity in hell because we are sinners under the wrath of God (Romans 3:9-30; Ephesians 2:1-3).  We are totally unrighteous (Romans 3:10).  But when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Romans 10:9-13), God accepts us in Christ by His grace (Ephesians 1:6; 2:8-9).  From that point on, we live by God’s grace, we are sustained by God’s grace, and we are empowered to live for Him by grace as His disciple (Matthew 4:19; Luke 14:26-27, 33).

So, whenever I write this post about clippin’ grace coupons, it is my way of recognizing the truth of Ephesians 2:7, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  God is so very good to us, and sometimes like Andy Griffith would say, “Extreee good!”

Here’s a few grace  coupons God has allowed me to clip in the past two weeks.

Grace Coupon #1:  Running toward the sunrise at the beach

Denise and I love to get up early on vacation and watch the awesome display of God’s handiwork!  She walks, and I run.  What a time we have together!

Grace Coupon #2:  Seeing the elk at Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountain Park

What a special treat to hike this area as well as Big Creek with a dear friend and fellow hiker, Rick Stoner!

Grace Coupon #3:  The Beauty of Cataloochee

Grace Coupon #4:  Singing in the Sun 2017

What a special treat to attend two nights and hear such groups as Mark Trammell Quartet, Brian Free & Assurance, The Talleys, Gold City, and Triumphant Quartet.  Better than the singing was the preaching of Evangelist C.T. Townsend and Dr. Herb Reavis and seeing many souls come to Christ!!  A special thank you to the Life FM for the great seats.

An unexpected blessing on the second night was to sit right behind a young girl from back home, her husband and their daughter.  Then, to find out that a dear friend of mine and his wife were a section over from us!  He and I have shouted, praised the Lord, wept, and rejoiced at many Southern Gospel concerts.

 

Grace Coupon #5:  Worshiping With Our Daughter & Son-in-Law, Whitney & Paul