A Pastor’s Tuesday

Began the day with a cup of coffee and the Word!

Was encouraged and blessed by a daily Bible verse text from a dear brother in Christ.

Ministered the Word to two still-grieving hearts; shared from what I had read earlier in the morning.

Spoke an word of encouragement to one whose world has been shattered.

My wife and I attended the adoption ceremony at the county courthouse for a precious foster child who is now the daughter of one of our church member’s.

Made a Dunkin run for this first day of peppermint mocha coffee!

Reminded myself to think biblically.

Visited one of our church family who is recovering from heart-valve replacement surgery. Thankful for Psalm 4 and prayer!

Helped my wife pick up some things at Sam’s Club.

Fought my flesh.

Dropped off some books, a DVD, and a thank you note to a long-time Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16) in my life.

Listened to Adrian Rogers preach as I traveled to Kingsport.

Reminded myself to think biblically.

Experienced another “iron sharpening iron” (Proverbs 27:17) men’s book lunch where we discussed a biblical theology of work, shared life events, and prayed together. A transparent, honest exchange among men.

Connected with a missionary friend via Whatsapp.

Listened to Chip Ingram teach on prayer as I traveled for my next appointment.

Met with our assistant pastor for our weekly ministry meeting. Another time of “iron sharpening iron.” God met with us in a very special way.

Received a text from my wife that her cousin has maybe a day or two left on this earth due to cancer. I called my wife on my drive home to come alongside her and hopefully bear her burden.

Was reminded that Jesus could come right now as I was exiting the interstate and saw the view from the top of the hill.

Received a humorous phone call from my oldest daughter that produced a needed “belly-laugh.”

Fought my flesh and the attacks of the devil.

While waiting for and helping with supper preparation, I answered texts and emails, called a church member to sing Happy Birthday, and chatted with my wife as I caught up on other events of the day. So very grateful for my wife who faithfully serves at home to make our home a place of refuge from this world. The meal was delicious comfort food.

Reminded myself of God’s promises.

Spent the evening helping my wife who was not really feeling well. Also, answered and read more emails, read some helpful blogs and worked on prep for Wednesday and Sunday’s messages.

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, [b]unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [c]instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. I charge you [a]therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead [b]at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (2 Timothy 2:22-3:5; 3:13-4:2)

Another day of experiencing the sufficient grace and eternal love of God!

Teammates

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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!!

Valentine’s Day Everyday!

Roses

Roses are red. Violets are blue. If you don’t spend big on Valentine’s Day, your partner might end things with you.

It’s expected that more than half (53%) of all Americans will pull out all the stops this February 14th, spending a collective $30 billion on all manner of heart-shaped treats and experiences.

However, signs point to Lotharios tightening the old purse strings in 2019, with spending on Valentine’s Day down 10%, falling from $30.3 billion in 2018 to $30 billion in 2019.

If you’re one of the 53% of Americans planning to spend on someone for Valentine’s Day, I hope you’ve got deep pockets: The average person is expected to spend $221.34.

These Valentine’s facts were posted January 16, 2019 on finder.com.  Wow!

Valentine’s Day is a very special day, and it’s fun to try to express our love in big ways!

This week, I cooked supper for my Sweetheart of 37+ years.  I found an easy recipe from Ree Drummond on the Food Network website and went to work.  Within an hour, we had lemon-pepper steak grilled in butter, seasoned steak fries with hollandaise sauce, blue cheese wedge salad with bacon and blue cheese crumbles, and parmesan toast.  (Now, a side note.  I’m not running to take my wife’s place in the kitchen!!)  We ate by the fireplace, Denise gave me a gift, and afterwards, we watched two episodes of the Andy Griffith Show and played two rounds of Take Two.  Total cost for the meal:  Maybe $10.

I have good news for you.  You can have Valentine’s Day everyday, and it won’t cost you $221.34 each day!

How?  Just work at your marriage by the grace of God each day.

  1. Tell your spouse each day, “I love you.”
  2. Kiss your spouse each day–not a peck on the cheek or lips, either!
  3. Hold hands.
  4. Take 10-30 minutes each day to pay attention and communicate with each other.  No distractions (kids, phones, TV, etc).  You can do it!
  5. Leave love notes around the house, in the car, in his shirt pocket, in her purse, etc.
  6. Text each other throughout the day expressing your love for one another and what you are up to at the moment.
  7. Be demonstrative in your love toward your spouse in front of the children.  They need to see what marriage really is like.
  8. Plan an inexpensive date (A ride in the car after supper, a walk through the park, sometime spent on the back porch, a personal pan pizza served on china plates after the kids are in bed, read old love letters and cards, just talk as you look into each other’s eyes, shut the door to your bedroom making it off limits to the kids, listen to some old love songs, recreated a date from before you were married, watch your wedding video, etc.)
  9. Open the car door and store door for your wife.  Seat her at the table, too.
  10. Look for opportunities each day to say, “I love you. I am thinking of you.”  If you don’t know what to do, pray about it . . . seriously.

Big event days are indeed fun.  But, it’s all the little things you do that make those big event days special and not “make-up-for-it” days!  And, . . . the first sentence of the finder.com report will have no bearing on you!

Twelve Days of True Love

What will you do these next twelve days?  Look for a partridge in a pear tree?  How about five gold rings?  Maybe eight maids a milking?  Six geese a laying?  (Better watch where you step!)  No matter, they all came from your “true love.”  Wow!

When you think of true love, I doubt you consider a partridge, milking a cow, seven swans gliding along on a pristine pond or drummers having at it!  Now, I will give you this much, ladies, you might think of  gold rings!!

So let’s set aside all of the aforementioned “true love” gifts and consider how you can give true love in the next twelve days between you and your spouse.

  1.  May sure your love relationship with the Lord is fresh and daily renewed (John 3:16; Matthew 22:37; John 15:9; Luke 10:42; Romans 12:1-2).
  2. Share with your spouse the blessings of the love relationship between you and your Lord!
  3. Join hands with your spouse and together talk/pray to Jehovah Who loves you with an everlasting, unconditional love.
  4. Enjoy the marriage love relationship that God gave you by taking time to just look into each other’s eyes and share terms of endearment with each other and words of appreciation for each other.
  5. After the kids go to bed, make popcorn and watch a Christmas movie. Be sure to snuggle up with each other and turn off your smartphone! Your relationship with each other is more important than your children and phone notifications.
  6. Talk a walk in the snow holding hands all the while.
  7. Sit by the Christmas tree and read Luke 2 or a Christmas devotional.
  8. Make Christmas sugar cookies together and be sure to give each other some sugar!
  9. Hang some mistletoe and . . . .
  10. Give each other a small gift by the tree each night until Christmas; play Christmas music on Pandora.
  11. Breakfast served to your spouse in bed on Saturday morning.
  12. Without interruptions, sit by the fire and make up your own list of twelve true love gifts.

I promise you, this will be better than three French hens, four calling birds or ten lords a leaping!

37 and Counting

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According to takemeback, “It was Saturday. The US president was Ronald Reagan (Republican). Famous people born on this day include Céréna (singer) and Sarah Marshall. In that special week of June people in US were listening to Medley by Stars On 45. In UK Being With You by Smokey Robinson was in the top 5 hits. Dragonslayer, directed by Matthew Robbins, was one of the most viewed movies released in 1981 while The Beverly Hills Diet by Judy Mazel was one of the best selling books. On TV people were watching Bellamy. If you liked video games you were probably playing Colony 7 or Mystery Fun House. But much more happened that day.”

And that is exactly right! Much more did happen on that day. It was a hot, humid Saturday in Sumter, SC, where a sweet, precious, petite gal from Winchester, KY, walked the aisle to be joined in marriage to a tall, lanky, man dressed up in white tails. Not many in the world knew about it, but it meant the world to us.

Now 37 years later, what seemed like a long time to be married is now becoming more-and-more, “Where did the years go?’

Those 37 years amount to 13,514 days. Wow!

Looking back over all the joys, sorrows, hardships, fun, decisions, children, deaths, answers to prayer, struggles, laughter, misunderstandings, steps of faith, assumptions, dates, difficulties, delights, disappointments, discouragements, etc., I must say two things among many that could be said.

First of all, for a marriage to thrive, both husband and wife must work every day at their marriage. That’s 13,514 opportunities to love, forgive, kiss, listen, hug, serve, sacrifice, do the little things, look at each other, talk, date, pray, care, etc.

The second thing I must say is, “through it all, God’s been good.”

Tomorrow, we will work on day 13,515!

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!!!

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Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #10

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Biking the Greenbelt, Kingsport, TN

“Enjoying the Pleasures; Avoiding the Potholes”

On the scenic route through the mountains, especially the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will see many folks riding their bikes.  These guys and gals are fit and trim.  They are dressed for action and prepared for the long haul.

I will probably get myself in trouble here, but husbands, are you still your wife’s prince, her knight in shining armor?

Have you looked at any of your wedding pictures lately?  Who are those people?

At our wedding I wore a white tux with tails, or as Jerry Clower would have called it, “a claw-hammer tail coat.”  Standing 6’2” and weighing 185 pounds, I looked like a Good Humor Ice Cream salesmen.  My sweet wife . . . 4’9” and weighed under 100 pounds.

The years went by and my wife began to see more and more of me.  Ugh! Not good. Eventually almost 100 pounds of me!  She on the other hand has given birth to three children and today is still under a 100 pounds.

Men, once we get our gal, why do we let ourselves deteriorate physically?  Do we not respect her and the Lord enough to take care of our bodies?

Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body, and in 9:27, But I discipline my body and keep it under control.  And then John in 3 John 2, Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. Then in 1 Timothy 4:8, Paul once again exhorts us, For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Husbands, you need to be your wife’s protection, pillow and partner (Blog Posts #4 -#9), but also her prince!

In this age of fast food, video games, busyness of life and “feeding” our emotions, it is so easy to get lazy, overweight, and out-of-shape.  It takes discipline, planning, and sweat to exercise yourself unto godliness and good health. Your testimony and your wife are worth it!

Husbands, begin to exercise and eat right. Deny yourself.  Join up with your wife on a plan to work together to get healthy, eat healthy and stay heathy. Be honest with each other and encourage each other for your good and God’s glory!

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Husbands, dress for your wife.  When you are home, don’t look like a bum.  Your wife is there and your kids.  You can be casual without looking like you just stepped out of a dirty laundry basket.

Yes, the inner man must be renewed day-by-day, but our outward man is a reflection of what’s going on in our heart.

Something that I have appreciated about my wife from the very beginning is that she wants to look good for me.  She has said many times, “I do not dress for me but for you.”  I should reciprocate. She has eyes, too.  She is my princess.

Also, men, in being a prince to your wife, have good manners at the dinner table (1 Corinthians 10:31).  You should be the last to be served and the first to want to serve.  You should seat your wife at the table.  Put away your cell phones and talk to each other. You take the lead in prayer or calling on someone to pray; on having family devotions at the table if that is a good time for you.

Last of all, men, in being your wife’s prince, be polite.  Read Ruth 2 and take note of how polite and kind Boaz was to Ruth.  She was impressed by his gracious actions.

A prince draws his wife to himself by his kind words and deeds.  Speak well of your wife in public, tell her how much she means to you, let her know that you are paying attention to her, and be sure to often speak the words “I love you.”

Recently, I have added biking to my running routine.  No, I am not planning on riding the Blue Ridge Parkway for any great distance, but I am trying to do what I have encouraged you to do, men.  It’s for God’s glory and for my wife.

We are in it for the long haul.

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #9

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The view from the Old Pilot Hill General Store; our stop on the way home last Saturday.

“Enjoying the Pleasures; Avoiding the Potholes”

Saturday afternoon, my wife and I attended a funeral calling several miles from our home.  We try to make ministry opportunities not only about whom we are serving but about serving each other and working at our marriage. Continue reading

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #8

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“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!

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