Let’s Cheer ‘Em On!

Pulling into the Tweetsie Trail parking lot for our early morning run, there gathered around the trailhead were 30 or more college students. They were in fine shape bringing back memories of my pre-gotta-watch-what-you-eat, what’s-that-hanging-over-your-belt days! They were all lean, trim and in optimum running shape.

Andrew and I headed down the trail and about two miles in, we heard the sound of runners gaining on us. These college age gazelles in various groupings passed us with great ease.

As we approached the three mile mark, some of these students were gathered waiting for the rest of their gang. Are you ready for this? They saw us coming and formed lines on either side of the trail and began clapping for us and cheering us on!!! Wow!! They did not know us. We were not in their group. The only thing that unified us was what called us to be on the Tweetsie Trail . . . running.

As Andrew and I continued our run, a pertinent application struck a chord in my heart. This is how Christians should treat others, especially those in the family of God.

So, how should we treat others in the family of God? Should we carry long-term grudges against them? Should we withhold forgiveness? Should we just write them off? Should we misapply scripture to fit our reasons for distancing ourselves from our brother and/or sister in Christ? Should we gossip about them? Should we make them feel like a nobody when seen in public? What does the Word of God say?

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. (Romans 12:10, 16)

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

You may not run races here on earth, but if you are a believer, you are running a race that will count in Glory (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 12:1-3). Hence, may I encourage you to cheer on your brother and sister in Christ? Should we treat them different here than we will in Heaven? Who needs to hear you clapping and cheering them on?

Incredible Grace

2019 VBS

As the last of the children got off the van and headed to their apartment homes, I got back into our church van with tears in my eyes.  Vacation Bible School is over for 2019.

God, in His incredible grace, gave us an awesome week! Grace enabled a young boy to be born again.  Grace gave tired, faithful workers the ability to love, serve, and be energized every night.  Grace overcame the flesh and led our workers to be unified around the gospel.  Grace overwhelmed us with answers to prayer.  Grace provided wisdom for the workers to overcome obstacles.  Grace produced compassion for all kids of every race. God’s incredible grace was on display every night!

My tears, though, were mostly for these kids who rode the van.  Their world is one of drugs, sin, selfishness, abuse, alcohol, and no hope. They will not be under the sound of biblical teaching every night next week.  They will be allowed to roam in the night.  They will have to fight to survive.

We will seek to follow up with these kids in the days to come.  We will pray for a miracle of God’s grace to break the chains of sin in the hearts of their parents and in that apartment complex.  We will trust in God’s incredible grace to do the miraculous for His glory!

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Praying with tears that soon they will be tears of rejoicing because of God’s incredible grace!

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #11

pothole

OH, NO!!  I tried to avoid it, but….

Nailed it dead center! Yes, that huge pothole in the road.  It was pitch black at night, raining and I didn’t see it in time.  After about needing to see a chiropractor due to the jarring we received and a loan officer to pay the tire bill, I learned again that potholes are definitely to be avoided!!!

Continue reading

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #8

IMG_20180308_223805122.jpg

“Enjoying the Pleasures; Avoiding the Potholes”

As we continue on the scenic route taking in all the pleasures of marriage, let’s move from Protection (Scenic Route Posts #4 – #7) to  . . . Pillow.  Pillow?  Yes, pillow, and no, it’s not time to take a nap!

Continue reading

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #4

Boone Tavern

There are indeed so many pleasures along the scenic route:  waterfalls, coffee shops, hiking trails, barbeque & bluegrass, pull-offs, picnic areas, wildlife, quiet, slower speed limits, unique food stops, antique shops, time with your spouse, etc.

Likewise, there are many pleasures in marriage, some of which were very active in the early years of your relationship, but sadly have become dormant as the years rolled by.  Let’s look at some of those pleasures, and I will be looking at them from a husband’s point of view.  After all, he is the loving, servant leader in the home.  So men, here we go!

Boone Tavern 2

Proverbs 18:22 reminds us, men, that our wives are a special treasure to us from God; they are a good thing (KJV). They are God’s grace gift to us.  We do not deserve our wives.  Therefore, by God’s grace we are to treasure this gift and treat her like a lady, like a special treasure.

Ephesians 5:25 says, Husbands love (agape) your wives, even as Christ also loved (agagao) the church and gave [paradidōmi – to give oneself up for, give oneself to death for, to undergo death for] Himself for it.

Men, one of the best ways to treasure our wives and enjoy pleasure in marriage is to die daily to Christ and to ourselves so we can live for Christ and our dear wives. Therefore, one of the first areas of pleasure in marriage is being your wife’s “knight in shining armor” whereby you protect her; she finds security in you.

God designed men and women with particular needs they cannot meet on their own. Part of the goal of marriage is for husbands and wives to meet those needs for each other.  Therefore, one of the greatest needs of a woman is for security. Her most secure environment is one in which she is married to a sacrificial, sensitive, loving, caring, godly man.  She should find her utmost security in Christ, but next of all, in her husband.

A great example of this is found in the budding relationship of Boaz and Ruth.  Read Ruth 2:8-13, and look at how Boaz treated Ruth. No wonder she ended up marrying him!!

Men, your wife will find security in open, honest, consistent communication.

Recently, I heard Evangelist David Young say, “A leader knows the way and uses words!”  Compare 1 Peter 3:1 and Ephesians 5:26.  In the first passage, a wife is encouraged to not nag or preach to her husband when he is unsaved or not living in fellowship with the Lord.  She is to be silent and let God work in her husband’s heart.  Now that is contrary to all the jokes and statements about women.  Supposedly, according to research, you know “the experts” research, that woman speak over 20,000 words-a-day, and men speak around 7,000 words-a-day.  According to Ephesians 5:26, the man is to be the leader in speaking in the home.  Just as Christ is setting apart and cleansing the church through the spoken Word of God, a husband is to set his wife apart and help her live a pure life through speaking Truth to her, praying Truth with her, and leading her by the Truth.

Husbands, Satan loves our secrets and our silence.  We must be men who talk.  Men who speak truth.  Men who speak up.  Men who do not hide in silence because we don’t want to confront sin or take risks.

Men, talking with your wife will breathe new life into your relationship.  Put down your phone.  Turn off the ballgame or fishing show. Share your heart with your wife; engage in meaningful conversation.  Be honest!  Be open!

Husbands, when you speak, also remember that how you say something says so much to your wife.  Your communication, attitude in speech, and tone are either building up trust in your wife or tearing it down. Consider the following:

  1. Think before you speak.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).

  1. Choose your words carefully.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).

  1. Speak words of edification, endearment, encouragement, exhortation, and grace not destruction.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29).

  1. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by your words.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).

  1. Learn to genuinely listen to what your wife is saying as well as to what she is not saying.

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19).

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you[a] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

  1. Use your words as a grace gift to your wife because God gave you words and the ability to use them. Don’t abuse His gift.  (Genesis 1-2; 1 Corinthians 10:31)

The scenic route gives you time to pull over and talk without interruption.  That “scenic route” can be after the kids go to bed, or after supper without any electronic devices, or on the back porch as well as on a literal journey down on the scenic route.  Some of the best discussions my wife and I have had were sitting on a picnic bench overlooking the valley below, sitting in the rocking chairs on the front porch of a country store, nested beside each other in a cozy coffee shop, walking together through a quaint town, swinging together on our porch swing or sitting on the rocks by a mountain stream . . . just to mention a few.

Men, there are pleasures in marriage, and the first one is the security your wife finds in you as you talk to her, listen to her and always share your heart with her.

Men, take the scenic route.  Lead and use words.

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #3

blue ridge parkway overlook

CRAZY BUSY!!!  That’s how so many people respond if you ask them how they are doing.  Busy is basically the norm of life nowadays with work, school, recreation, smartphones, internet, chasing the American dream, etc. Sadly, most folks are out of breath! We have no time for God, for our spouse, for our family, and/or for eternal things.  We are crazy busy!!

Last week, I shared two blogposts with you about taking the scenic route in marriage.  The first post called our attention to the fact that the scenic route is not the normal route.  Its less-travelled and not the overwhelming choice. Just like there’s a major difference between the scenic route and the interstate highway, biblical marriages should be radically different than the world’s idea of marriage.  So our first point was to understand that God created marriage, not man. The second post added the thought that God directs marriage, not man.

Today, I want us to consider that the scenic route is a steady, slower pace.

My wife and I love riding the Blue Ridge Parkway that courses it way for 469 miles through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.  If you were to travel the entire route, more than 200 overlooks would be calling for your attention.

blue ridge parkway overlook2

These designated pull-offs look onto wide, breathtaking vistas, luring you to stop your car, get out, and see what God has created. You stand there and look this way, then that way as you listen to the quiet, soak up the sun, enjoy the breeze, perhaps see Peregrine falcons soar through the valley, as well as much more!

To enjoy this grandeur along the Parkway, you have to intentionally pull over, stop and get of out of the car to take it all in!

blue_ridge_parkway_overlooks

I want to ask you do something.  Would you slow down, pull over, stop the car, get out and take a fresh look at the grandeur of this grace-gift called marriage?  Sadly, too many couples are so crazy busy they have forgotten the awesome blessing of marriage!

Therefore, set a time for you and your spouse to “pull over” and read through the following passages.  Husband, you read audibly the first verse, and wife, the second, and continue back-and-forth like that until you have completed the designated passage.  When you are finished, each of you need to share what stood out to you in a positive way about marriage.  Share with each other what verse struck a chord in your heart and why.  Let the Word speak as you look at God’s creation, marriage.  This could be a part of several dates to come as you read through one passage at a time, at each “overlook.”

  • Genesis 2:18-25
  • Proverbs 5:15-19; 18:22
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-11
  • Song of Solomon 1:15-16; 2:1-17
  • Song of Solomon 4:1-16
  • Song of Solomon 5:1-16
  • Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:18-33
  • Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1-12

Perhaps, you have lost the overall grand vista picture of what God intended marriage to be?  Slow down.  Make time for your spouse a major priority.  Look into each other’s eyes.  Share terms of love and endearment.  Wrap each other up in your arms.

Exchange CRAZY BUSY for

crazy in love with you

Sandwiches & Stories

“You used a Black & Decker drill to perform surgery on a man in jail?”  That was my response a few years ago as an OB-GYN doctor serving in medical missions in Africa told her story while we were gathered around our dining room table.  Even better was the fact that this man later came to believe in Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior (John 3:16; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:9-13).

This story was one of probably a thousand or more in my lifetime! Growing up in a pastor’s home provided many opportunities for evangelists, college presidents, pastors, and missionaries to put their feet under our kitchen table and/or sleep in our guest bedroom.

I can remember as a grade school aged boy sitting at the kitchen table after an evening church service listening to all kinds of ministry stories.  Those memories are also a part of my junior and senior high school days as well as college.

With eyes wide open and ears open even wider, those narratives told me that life was full of blessings, fun, hardships, trials, laughter, questions, burdens, answers to prayer, rich in Bible knowledge and application, and tears to name a few.  But no doubt about it, those stories from real Christians revealed a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ and an unshakable faith in an awesome, faithful, promise-keeping God!

Interesting enough, I did not learn until long after I had left home that it was my dad who invited most of those folks home.  My mom really did not like duty in the kitchen.  That was just not her “cup-of-tea.”  I share this to encourage you.  Our meals were usually very simple.  The table was not elaborately set.  Mom used what she had, and in our early days at home, that was not much.

You see, it was not the food at the table I remember or how the table was decorated that has left an indelible impression upon me.  Most assuredly, it was all those hours in the presence of simple servants of the Lord.

How grateful I am that many, many times, my folks would let me stay up on a school night way past bedtime to sit under the influence of such godly men and women.  The eternal influence in their eyes was always more important than the temporal influence.

May I encourage you to host missionaries, evangelists, preachers, and other servants of the Lord in your home?  How cool it is to have a faithful missionary from a far-away land while eating dessert share accounts of God’s grace, protection, and answers to prayer!  What an impact it is to listen to a preacher tell about a lost soul receiving Christ as his Savior or expound the Word while eating a grilled cheese sandwich!  Oh, how wonderful to hear a college president while enjoying a bowl of corn chowder share how the Lord provided the school’s needs at just the right time!

Parents, your children need to experience this!  They need to experience it often.

Prepare the guest room, fix some sandwiches and invite a servant of the Lord into your home.  By the way, be sure to open your ears, too!

Sunday Worship in Mzuzu

Africa 9

One the blessings of our journey to Africa was the opportunity to keep up my journal entries. These writings are very dear to me.  They recount my walk with Christ, my relationship with Denise, the grace blessings of every life as well as many, many other things that my mind would not recall.

Here’s a partial entry from Sunday, July 9

Africa 8 Collage.jpg

What a glorious day!! Sunday worship at Charity Baptist Church was a huge blessing.

  • God gave grace to preach the first service.
  • The congregational singing was powerful; watching Daniel and Mark Anton lead the congregation is fun to watch; then other men get come up to lead a song which they call a special; the choir of young folk was awesome.
  • The offering is received by folks going forward and putting their offering in a basket while the congregation sings.
  • Matt preached a powerful sermon from Ruth 2 on the subject of grace.
  • The service ended in a very touching way. Pastor Daniel had the whole USA mission team line up across the front.  Then he said, “I want our church to come up and greet you and place a love gift in the basket.  It won’t buy the team a car but it will buy you a Coke.  When you all drink it, think of us and pray for us.”  Wow!  These poor folks gave out of their poverty.  As we sang, hugged and swayed, what a special time it was!!!
  • Another brother stood and shared what a blessing it was to have blacks and whites worshiping together in the unity of Christ.

Love Offering

Youth Choir

Africa 11

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