One Grateful American!

On this July 4th weekend, there are so many things that cause my heart to rejoice and express a sincere note of gratitude and patriotism as an American!

  1. That God allowed me to be born to godly, Christian parents and to be born again (John 3) in the United States of America!
  2. For parents, church, family and public education that taught and demonstrated what it was to be a respectful, God-honoring citizen of the USA!
  3. For a dad who proudly served his country in the Army during the Korean War.
  4. For my mom who loved to play patriotic music in our home either on the piano or through the stereo.
  5. That I could learn the history of this great land through a correct worldview and not one rewritten to suit the desires of a socialist agenda.
  6. For trips to Washington, DC, Appomattox and Chancellorsville, VA, President Lincoln’s birthplace, West Point, the USS Wilmington, Fort Sumter and many other places of historical value while still living at home with my folks.
  7. After marriage, the Korean War Memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Lincoln Memorial, President Ronald Reagan Library, the Twin Towers Memorial, and many more.
  8. To stand at Bristol Motor Speedway with over 140,000 fans and watch the American flag descend to the track via a parachutist while Lee Greenwood sang, “God Bless the USA!”
  9. To pledge my allegiance to the flag and the values it represents!!
  10. The joy of watching the precision and glory of the Air Force Thunderbirds at Shaw Air Force Base, Sumter, SC.
  11. To attend patriotic concerts such as the ones in Kingsport, TN and Murfreesboro, TN.
  12. Singing our National Anthem many, many times in many different locations with my hand across my heart!
  13. To be parked on the hill in Johnson City, TN, for the fireworks and to hear all the car radios around us tuned to the freedom music from a local station. Will miss that this year!
  14. For family picnics with us all wearing Old Navy patriotic t-shirts!
  15. Sparklers, fireworks, hot dogs, homemade ice cream, strawberry pie, etc.
  16. To share a word of thanks to everyone who has served in our military.
  17. To have preached the funerals of men and women who served in our military.
  18. Recently, watching a WWII veteran slowly rise to salute the flag as it was folded and presented to a grieving wife. Tears flowed down my cheek and my heart swelled with gratitude!
  19. To join with other believers on a Sunday morning to acknowledge God’s goodness to us in this land, not as an act of idolatry, but one of sincere thanksgiving!!

Today, I will say that it is hard for me to ask God to bless our nation when we have certainly not blessed Him in so many ways by turning our back on Him, disregarding prayer and the Word, killing millions of babies, displaying a hatred for Christ, and living for the American Dream rather than surrendering to righteousness. Nevertheless, I do ask that God would bless our land with His mercy and grace that we may continue the cause of freedom and the Gospel around the world for His glory!

Treating COVID-19 Marriage Conflicts

I heard someone say years ago when asked how long he had been married, “38 years, . . . and 36 of ‘um have been good ones.”

So, has COVID-19 stretched your marriage like a rubber band? Has it created additional conflict due to being together too much? Has the stress of the quarantine created some tough times?

Well, let me encourage you about something. The issue is not the quarantine or the coronavirus. The issue is that two sinners are living under the same roof.

Recently I heard about a book that intrigues me in regards to pre-marital and marital counseling. (I have not read it yet.) Authored by Dave Harvey, the title is When Sinners Say “I Do”: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage. Harvey says, “Marriage is the union of two people who arrive toting the luggage of life. And that luggage always contains sin.”

The coronavirus cannot cause strife in your marriage. The cause was there before COVID-19. The cause is your old sin nature which is full of pride, selfishness, criticism, harsh words, envy, jealousy, anger, fear, and much more. It stands in constant opposition to God and has a downward gravitational pull.

Let me give you a challenge. I could offer suggestions, but only the Word of God has the power to transform you, your situation, and your marriage in tough times. Therefore, here’s the encouragement, and men, take the lead. As a couple read Romans 5:1 – 6:23; 8:1-39; and Ephesians 4:17 – 5:33. Pray before you read the Word, then read it together. Read it slow. Read it out loud. Ask the Spirit to reveal Christ to you through the Word. Ask each other after reading a verse or two or more, “What does this passage say to us about our marriage? What do we need surrender? How do I need to change?” Take off the face masks and be transparent before the Lord and each other. Soak your soul in the Word of God and lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).

There are still many unknowns about the coronavirus, but that is not the case with marriage. God created marriage and has given us the manual for marriage if we will just read it, obey it and trust God for His way in it.

Be as willing and proactive to protect the gift of marriage from the sin virus as you are the coronavirus.

Teammates

Whiteface Mt. New York

A dear friend recently said to me, “Every time I pray for you, I pray for your wife. You two are a team!”

He’s right! We are!

We became a team on June 20, 1981. We have worked through marriage, parenting, ministry, and the stuff of life as a team. That teamwork has had a strong presence in our lives in the past week or so.

Last Monday, while on our way for a supper date, I ran my car through the car wash. As I pulled up to clean out the inside of my auto, I noticed a dear pregnant lady struggling to vacuum her built-low-to-the-ground four-door. Denise and I looked at each having the same thought. Gently I approached the lady and asked if I could vacuum her car. I quickly pointed to Denise to help ease the situation. She was a bit reluctant but then gratefully received my invitation. While I worked through the debris in this lady’s automobile, Denise introduced herself and began a gospel conversation. Every once-in-awhile, I would look from my task and say to myself, “I’m so glad we are teammates!”

Thursday through Saturday, Denise had the rich privilege of ministering God’s Word at Wolf Mountain Camp, Grass Valley, CA. The three days were peppered with texts, photos, and phone calls between us. We prayed, wept, laughed and rejoiced together as we saw God’s grace in action from a front row seat! During her speaking sessions, I prayed. While sharing Christ on the plane with a 39 year-old, I prayed. While Denise listened and counseled with these ladies of many nationalities, I prayed. While leading a dear lady through the plan of salvation and witnessing her transformation by the power of God from darkness to light, I prayed. I’m so glad we are teammates!

The past two and a half years have been a steady trial, and it continues. Some things occurred on Sunday that I permitted to create a spirit of despondency in my heart on Monday. Denise is my cheer-leading teammate. Throughout Monday and Tuesday, she prayed, cared, encouraged, and ministered to my heart. Her cry to the Lord Tuesday morning was, “Lord, would you fulfill Jeremiah 33:3 for Dale today?” By noontime, that prayer had been answered in an Ephesians 3:20 way. Furthermore, when I came home for supper, she had prepared an appetizer to enjoy while she completed her final meal prep. That was her way of saying, “I love you. I’m for you.” I’m so very glad we are teammates!

May I strongly encourage you husbands and wives by the grace of God—be teammates. Work through your conflicts together. Pray together. Serve together. Worship together. Parent together. Play together. Walk through this life hand-in-hand. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:33). This is teamwork as God planned it. I’m glad Denise and I are teammates!!

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!!

They Are Growing Up!

One of the cool features of being a grandparent is watching your twin grandsons grow and change every day! Given that our two bundles of energy have had to overcome great obstacles, those points of development are magnified.

Yesterday, I listened to them sing more words to the choruses that accompany our wagon rides on the farm road. I saw one of the boys take more steps in his struggle to walk. I heard their vocabulary increase as we walked to the back of our property. And, I watched with a full heart their zest for life as they proved again and again, they are “all boys”!!

Indeed, it is fascinating to watch our children and grandchildren grow and learn; to attempt new things; to make progress; to act like little adults; to fall down, get back up, and try again. How often we look at the kids and then the parents and say, “That apple doesn’t fall far from that tree!”

As a follower of Jesus Christ, one commanded to mature in Christ, what would others say about my growth in Christ? Could they give specific points of development? Have I grown from the times when I “fell down” each day?

2 Peter 3:18 says, But grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 4:15-16 exhorts us, Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. And 1 Peter 2:2, Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up.

Can you imagine Sunday morning as we gather to worship, an older believer walks up to you and says, “I have seen great growth in your life this week! I saw you from a distance be confronted with a situation that normally would elicit anger from your heart, but you responded in kindness and wisdom as Christ would. To God be the glory! Stay in the Word, walk on your knees, and be faithful!! Let’s pray together and ask the Lord to help both of us take the next step in wisdom.”

Instead of looking for the faults in others, let’s look for growth points and be encouragers. Let’s rejoice as we mature together in Christlikeness. Let’s help each other when we “fall down.” Let’s walk together to Glory. After all, we are the family of God.

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:5-7).

Who Will You Be in 2019? (Part 2)

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Our greatest and most important investment in 2019 involves our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The statement of the Apostle Paul found in Philippians 1:21, For to me to live is Christ, and in 3:8, 10, Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord . . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.

With that in mind, I want to share some resources to help you move forward in your walk with Christ, your growth in the knowledge of God and the application of the Word of God on a daily basis for 2019.

Besides your passion to read God’s Word in 2019, what else to you plan to read in this new year?

In this blog post, I am giving some book suggestions for men since my wife gave many helps in her Wednesday post for ladies: Suggestions for Books, Journals, Planners and More
Biblical Manhood

The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men, Richard D. Phillips (Reformation Trust)

Disciplines of a Godly Man, R. Kent Hughes (Crossway Books)

A Man After God’s Own Heart, Jim George, (Harvest House Publishers)

Biblical Marriage

Like the Shepherd: Leading Your Marriage With Love and Grace, Robert Wolgemuth (Regnery Faith)

The Ministry of Marriage, Jim Binney (Faithful Life Publishers)

What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage, Paul David Tripp, (Crossway Books)

Biblical Purity

Finally Free: Fighting For Purity With the Power of Grace, Heath Lambert (Zondervan)

Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys Who Are Sick of Porn, Tim Challies (Cruciform Press)

The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges (NavPress)

Biblical Dads

Raising a Modern-Day Knight: A Father’s Role In Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood, Robert Lewis, (Tyndale House Publishers)

The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan (Charles Foster Publishing)

Parenting, 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, Paul David Tripp (Crossway Books)

Biblical Church Body Life

Trellis & the Vine: Colin Marshall & Tony Payne (Matthias Media)

The Vine Project: Shaping Your Ministry Culture Around Disciple-Making, Colin Marshall & Tony Payne (Matthias Media)

Letters to the Church, Francis Chan (David C. Cook)

Miscellaneous

Experiencing God Workbook: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Henry Blackaby (B & H Publishers)

Forgiveness: Discover the Power and Reality of Authentic Christian Forgiveness, Gary Inrig (Discovery House)

Power Through Prayer, E. M. Bounds

The Beauty of Intolerance: Setting a Generation Free to Know Truth & Love, Josh & Sean McDowell (Shiloh Run Press)

Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend, James I. Robertson (MacMillan USA)

All Things For Good: The Steadfast Fidelity of Stonewall Jackson, J. Steven Wilkins (Cumberland House)

This list could go on and on, and I even feel guilty for leaving them out, but this is just a mere sampling of some good, helpful reads. I would also encourage you to visit the online bookstore of christlifemin.org and check out their devotionals, books on prayer, parenting, manhood, etc.

Indeed, “Leaders are readers.” Men let’s go against the grain and be men who read and lead! Are you ready?

Music. I said it.

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You want to start a possible firestorm in a conversation?  Mention the word “music.”  Even writing about this causes me to cringe a bit.  There is much debate about the kind of music being used today in our churches.  May I kindly offer the following?

Often the cry is heard, “We don’t sing the old hymns in our church anymore,” or “I sure miss the old hymns,” or “These old hymns will die if we don’t sing them in church.”  No matter whether that is the case or not, may I ask, as I was reminded recently, “Do you sing hymns at home?”

The best place to learn the great hymns of the faith is at home.  Sing them at supper.  Sing them in the car.  Sing them around the fire pit.  Sing them during your family devotions.  Sing them on the way to church.  Sing them while holding your child in your arms.  Sing them while washing dishes.  Sing them at family gatherings.

On any given Sunday, a congregation may sing around 30 minutes. How many opportunities do you have at home each week?  Take advantage of those hours to disciple and worship with your family and guests.  Make your home a house of praise! I have a hunch your worship time on Sunday will be more Godward-focused and heart-expressed.

Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people (Psalm 9:1).

I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me (Psalm 13:6).

Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name (Psalm 18:36).

Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy (Psalm 33:3).

Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:18).

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

Thank the Lord He created music!  Sing!!

Helping Children Understand Easter

 

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Golgatha

This is an awesome time of the year!  The apex of history is the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ and His bodily resurrection from the tomb (Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Matthew 26:57-28:10; 1 Corinthians 15).  This event sets Jesus Christ and Christianity apart from ALL other religions around the world.

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Outside the Empty Tomb, January 19, 2017

How important that our children understand the truth about Christ and Easter.  There is no problem with enjoying eggs, candy, bunnies, and baskets, but our younger generation must know the truth, and Christ, Who is Truth.

My wife’s blog will help you accomplish this.  Be sure to take take to read and watch, Helping Children Understand Easter

The Cats in the Cradle

Leisure

Recently while running the dial on Sirius XM, I heard a song from my teen years sung by Harry Chapin entitled “The Cats in the Cradle.”

This heartbreaking song tells of a father and son who can’t schedule time to be with each other, and it serves as a warning against putting one’s career before family. The verses start out with a natural harmony and depict the tale of a father with his newborn son. Although dad gets the necessities of child rearing accomplished, he doesn’t allow himself to put in quality time with his son because of his career. Initially, this seems like no big deal because of his hectic and oblivious life working and paying bills.

The recurring verse has the son saying, “I’m gonna be like you Dad, you know I’m gonna be like you…”

Over time, both father and son grow into a switching of life roles. The father realizes his son’s ambitions of college, grades, and driving, and wants to spend more time with him, yet slowly grasps the reality that now his son has no time for such things. In the last verse, Chapin illustrates that the son is all grown up with a fast-paced job and kids of his own. In a glaring twist of roles, we see that the son now has no time to spend with his father. With a heavy heart, dad realizes that his boy has become just like him.  (Songfacts.com)

Dads, indeed, your sons are watching and learning you.

Making a connection with yesterday’s blogpost, may I ask you dads, are your sons growing up to be just like you when it comes to your relationship with God?

Will they sing in church like you do?

Will they open their Bible and take notes whenever the Word of God is preached like you do?

Will they be totally engaged in worship on Sundays like you are?

Will they be a man of prayer just like you?

Will they be a ready witness for Christ as you are?

Will they know the Word of God like you do?

Will they have the Word memorized like you do?

Will they be a surrendered servant for Christ just like you?

Will stand and testify of God’s grace, faithfulness and love like you do?

Will they be diligent to add to their original faith because you are?

Will they give diligence to make their calling and election sure because you do?

Will they?

Men, we must be all-out, surrendered men of God like Christ, Moses, Joseph, Joshua, Daniel, Paul, Barnabas, Peter, etc. Not only for the glory of God but for the sakes of our sons who are watching and taking their cues from us.

“The cats in the cradle,” and he will soon be gone.  Will he be just like you?

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Train up a child in the way he should go. (Proverbs 22:6a)

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. (Proverbs 23:24)

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:11-12)